TAMPA — Greg Schiano's primary objective in his first season as coach of the Buccaneers was to change the culture inside the walls at One Buc Place. Now that he's done that, it's time to start winning some football games. It doesn't matter much if the Bucs win here and now in the preseason, but how certain individuals and units play in these exhibition games will tell us a lot about the Bucs' chances of winning consistently during the regular season. With that in mind, we urge you to ignore the scoreboard during tonight's preseason finale against the Redskins at Raymond James Stadium and focus instead on these five areas of play.
The Bucs are serious about using Carimi as a replacement for ailing LG Carl Nicks, but Carimi is a little unfamiliar with the position, and he played like it a week ago at Miami. Carimi is at his best playing right tackle, but the Bucs believe he's one of their six best linemen, so they're hoping he can prove to be a quick study at a new position. They'll find out tonight if working Carimi at left guard is truly a plausible option for them going forward. If Carimi plays well, he could be the opening-day starter. If he doesn't, the Bucs may have to move C Jeremy Zuttah to left guard and start Ted Larsen at center. They really don't want to do that, so how Carimi plays is critical to their plans.
Johnson has been getting a lot of work at the nickel corner position this preseason, and it looks like that job is now his to lose. The chances of that happening diminished this week when Danny Gorrer went down with a groin injury and Anthony Gaitor was lost to a torn ACL, but the Bucs are all about competition and there is still one raging here. The Bucs are very high on veteran Mike Adams, and they believe Rashaan Melvin can be a player for them, too. As he proved a year ago when he earned six starts and made three interceptions as a rookie, Johnson has the talent to fend off his challengers. He just needs to keep playing at a consistently high level to do so.
Glennon will make his first start in tonight's game, and that may present him with a whole new set of challenges. Though the Redskins are not expected to play a lot of their starters, they may throw a few out there just to get some work, and it will be interesting to see how Glennon performs against them. Glennon has made very good strides so far in terms of learning the Bucs' offense and opposing defenses, but his play has been a little uneven. If Glennon can play with a little more consistency tonight, the Bucs may not hesitate to keep him as their second quarterback behind starter Josh Freeman. Any slip in his play at all, though, could cause him to slide down the depth chart as well.
Bucs coach Greg Schiano isn't ready to ordain Daniel Te'o-Nesheim as one of the Bucs' starting ends just yet, but he's close. The Bucs love Te'o-Nesheim's motor and his run-stopping skills, and that's where he's developed an edge over Da'Quan Bowers. Bowers has been the biggest disappointment of the preseason, a player who was all but handed a starter's job at the beginning of training camp but lost it before the second preseason game. Bowers has the dynamic pass rush ability that Te'o-Nesheim lacks, but in order to win his job back he has to prove he can be an impact player on every down. Bowers won't be able to do that all at once tonight, but a big game could help him close the gap on his competitor.
Banks appears to have locked up a starting job opposite Darrelle Revis. He's started all three preseason games at left corner, and no one seems to be challenging him. The Bucs aren't even working Banks at slot corner, so it looks like he'll be out there on an island of his own on opening day. That's an exciting proposition, but it is one that could be fraught with trouble. If Revis is on the other side of the defense, opponents are sure to pick on and test Banks, so Banks needs all the work he can get to prepare for a potential onslaught. The Bucs are all but hoping the Redskins throw Banks' way tonight, because how he fares will tell them a lot about where he stands in his development.