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Live: Bucs open preseason with 26-24 win in Miami

Date, time: Tonight, 7 p.m. Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami. TV/radio: NBC; 97.9-FM

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RICK STROUD’S THIRD-QUARTER TAKES

— QB Ryan Griffin is Mr. August. He’s never played in a regular-season game, but it’s not for a lack of showing up in the preseason.

Griffin got his chance in the third quarter, throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Alan Cross.

— Speaking of Cross, he’s always a longshot to make the team with tight ends like Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard and Anthony Auclair. But darned if he doesn’t make plays when called upon.

— The Bucs need to develop some depth at safety. Rookie Jordan Whitehead appears to be going to play the whole second half. He and Isaiah Johnson did some work but gave up some deep balls in the third quarter.













RICK STROUD’S SECOND-QUARTER THOUGHTS

— QB Jameis Winston looks pretty sharp. Despite playing behind the No. 2 offensive line, with some third-teamers sprinkled in, Winston completed 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards in the first half. He also led the Bucs to 10 first half points.

— Rookie RB Ronald Jones is not just about speed. He runs with some power as well. Jones ran well inside and took the yards that were there, ignoring the temptation to bounce everything outside. His 2-yard TD run was a thing of beauty.

— Thank goodness PK Chandler Catanzaro didn’t stay in the jar. After missing a PAT, he came back to connect on a 27-yard FG and a PAT in the first half.



Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (27) avoids a tackle by Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (96), to score a touchdown during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) HRS108











Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) congratulates running back Peyton Barber (25) after Barber scored a touchdown during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) HRS107







Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) congratulates running back Peyton Barber (25), after Barber scored a touchdown during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) HRS105








RICK STROUD’S FIRST-QUARTER IMPRESSIONS

— DE Jason Pierre-Paul will be a force for the Bucs defense. In the first quarter, JPP had three tackles and a quarterback pressure. He set the edge when he wasn’t involved in the action.DT Gerald McCoy had a first quarter sack, and there will be more of that as teams have more to worry about than just the six-time Pro Bowl player.

— QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is a savvy vet who makes quick decisions with the football. Fitz hit his first six passes for 55 yards and led the Bucs on a 6-play, 57-yard drive for a touchdown on their first possession.

— RB Peyton Barber looks a lot quicker. Barber rushed four times for 21 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter.

— PK Chandler Catanzaro...really? The Jets free agent missed his first PAT wide right.



Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) is tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Justin Evans (21) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) HRS102





































FITZPATRICK, WINSTON MAKING BEST OF DIFFICULT SITUATION

Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) walks with Jameis Winston (3) during Bucs practice on Monday in Tampa. [TAILYR IRVINE | Times]

MIAMI — Ryan Fitzpatrick did not see this coming. But at 35, he will begin the preseason as the Bucs' starting quarterback tonight in Miami and remain in that role at least until Jameis Winston serves his three-game suspension.itzpatrick says his arm and body have handled the extra workload during training camp.

"I feel good," Fitzpatrick said. "The biggest thing with the reps with me is, how does your arm feel? Are you throwing too much? Definitely not. The reps have stepped up a little bit, but not a ton. Now the reps I do take are a little more meaningful than the ones I had all of last year just in terms of working with (the) twos and threes. I feel really good physically, the arm feels great and, going into year 14, I couldn't ask my body to feel any better, probably."

Winston, meanwhile, has been given repetitions primarily with the second- and third-team offense. He has been less animated during practice, but he has been a great teammate, Fitzpatrick said.

Read Rick Stroud’s full story here.


TEN POSITION BATTLES TO WATCH

All eyes tonight will be on rookie cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis, second-rounder who are battling for roles in the Bucs secondary. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

The NFL preseason moves pretty fast. Tonight, the Bucs open theirs at the Dolphins, and three weeks later, Tampa Bay will be finished, left with the final decisions to pare the current 91-man roster down to the initial 53 on Sept. 1.

After two weeks of training camp, there are position battles all over the field, with a few starting jobs up for grabs and much more roster spots in close competition, sometimes even between three of four players.

So here are 10 battles to watch, remembering that the earlier you play in a preseason game, the more likely you are to make the actual team.

Read Greg Auman’s full story here.


RONALD JONES HIGHLIGHTS BUCS' COMING ATTRACTIONS

Bucs rookie Ronald Jones, shown in practice Thursday, adds a big-play ability the Bucs have lacked. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

TAMPA – The Bucs preseason should prove to be more entertaining than embarrassing, even with the awkward job-sharing arrangement at quarterback between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston, who awaits his three-game suspension.

Fitzwinston will get much of the attention, but the Bucs preseason opener at Miami Thursday will serve as an interesting preview of some coming attractions.

Whether you can't wait to see pupil-popping running back Ronald Jones, redhead center Ryan Jensen, the rebuilt defensive line or (Next!) place-kicker Chandler Catanzaro, there's something new for every Tampa Bay fan.

Here's a viewer's guide of who to watch for in the first episode.

Get your popcorn ready.

Read Rick Stroud’s full story here.


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