There are few things more tedious in the game of football than the fourth and final game of the preseason. It’s a game often ignored even by the most fervent of fans, and the Bucs preseason finale was one worth ignoring.
At the end, it was the Jaguars besting the Bucs 25-10 in a game that will sadly decide the fate of a good number of the players who were on the field giving it their all on Thursday.
With that in mind, here are a few observations regarding the immediate future of a few of the players who, right or wrong, may have played their last NFL game in those one.
*It was another rough night for rookie running back Ronald Jones. After running 18 times for just 18 yards in the first three preseason games combined, Jones ran 10 times for just 4 yards against Jacksonville.
Truth be told, however, Jones had nowhere to run. The line in front of him did a horrible job of creating running room and so Jones finished up a disappointing preseason never really showing what he’s capable of.
If he wasn’t a second-round draft pick, Jones might be in danger of losing a roster spot, but the Bucs aren’t all that deep at running back and remain confident Jones will eventually prove worthy of his draft position.
The Bucs will more than likely chalk up Jones’ struggles to the play of the offensive line, but Shaun Wilson and Dare Ogunbowale ran behind the same line as Jones on Thursday and did a much better job of gaining ground.
Wilson ran eight times for 45 yards while Ogunbowale ran five times for 29 yards. Throw in the fact that Wilson continued to show well as a return man and there’s a chance he will at least earn a practice squad spot.
*I found it interesting that DE Noah Spence was still playing in the fourth quarter. I found it equally interesting that even against third- and fourth stringers he was unable to make much of an impact.
It’s hard to believe Spence is on the bubble. The Bucs were probably just trying to get him some playing time. After all, he’s missed a lot of time because of injury the past two years. Still, this was a bit curious.
*Justin Watson has done what Ronald Jones hasn’t this preseason. He’s earned a roster spot. The fourth-round out of Penn went into Thursday’s game leading the Bucs in receiving with 10 catches for 119 yards and tacked on two more catches for 11 yards and a TD against Jacksonville.
Largely because of where he played, Watson was a bit of a sleeper coming out of college. At 6-foot-3 215 pounds, however, he’s got NFL size to go along with good hands and good route-running skills. The Bucs are deep at the wide receiver position and Watson only makes them deeper.
One of the biggest decisions the Bucs have to make based on Thursday’s game is who to keep as their long snapper. Drew Ferris appeared to have that job wrapped up, but the Bucs re-signed Garrison Sanborn after Ferris botched a snap last week and gave him all the work on Thursday. This is just a guess, but I think Sanborn gets the job. If the Bucs had that much faith in Ferris they never would have brought Sanborn in.