TAMPA — Patrick Omameh knows it’s only a start. Now, it’s about the finish.
Opening Saturday night’s preseason game against Miami at right guard, Omameh might have solidified a starting spot on a Bucs offensive line that came under scrutiny after a poor performance at Jacksonville.
Plucked off San Francisco’s practice squad in October, Omameh displayed the physicality Tampa Bay coaches were looking for in a 20-14 loss, and he is expected to get another long look Saturday at Buffalo.
“He goes about it as a professional,’’ said Bucs C Evan Dietrich-Smith. “Pat’s kind of a quiet guy. He’s funny when you get him talking and stuff, but he’s a good guy. He’s strong and he’s a lot more athletic than people probably give him credit for. He does a lot of good things.’’
The 49ers boast a group of maulers up front, including holdout guard Alex Boone, who has been linked to the Bucs.
For Omameh, being around that rugged unit was a San Francisco treat.
“I had a tremendous offensive line coach in Mike Solari,’’ Omameh said, “and I got a real emphasis on detail, how to work. That’s a veteran group of linemen, also very elite players you could follow the example of and really show you that you’re going in the right direction. So that’s just something I try to carry with me now as far as going about things in this league.”
On Monday, the countdown clock in the Bucs locker room read 20 days to the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against the Panthers, the defending champions of the NFC South.
This week’s preseason game at Buffalo takes on special meaning because Tampa Bay starters will play sparingly, if at all, in the Aug. 28 exhibition finale against Washington at Raymond James Stadium.
“It’s very important,’’ OLB Jonathan Casillas said of the afternoon matchup against the Bills. “It’s been called the real dress rehearsal for the season. Starters get anywhere from two-and-a-half to three quarters of playing time, and then you’ve got the younger guys coming in.
“We’ll start taking a look at (the Bills) now. We just finished with Miami’s film today. Most guys will probably start it tonight. Tomorrow when we come in, I’m pretty sure we’ll have a solid introduction to them and we’ll get started with them right away.”
Through two weeks of training camp, the Bucs were fortunate on the injury front.
Those days are over.
The good news is starting CB Alterraun Verner, who has been sidelined most of camp with a hamstring issue, is expected back on the practice field today.
Coach Lovie Smith said he’ll know more about the availability of CB Mike Jenkins, RB Mike James, LB Brandon Magee and defensive ends Da’Quan Bowers and Steven Means later in the week.
“We’re out of training camp, but we’ll try to give you as much information as we possibly can on the injuries,” Smith said Monday. “I’m not trying to keep anything secret; really right now with injuries we just don’t know.”