Buccaneers observations: Depth an issue as preseason comes to close

Andrew Astleford offers up his key takeaways from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers preseason finale.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense end Larry English (74) runs as Washington Redskins tackle Tom Compton (68) blocks during the first half.

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, Fla. -- The preseason is over.

All the games that don't count. All the names that won't matter come Week 1. All the play that feels a notch or three below what will be seen when the results count for real.

The preseason is over.

The Washington Redskins beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-10 on Thursday, because the scoreboard remained lit and they kept score. But little about what happened at Raymond James Stadium on this night will be remembered.

Yes, this was a final job interview for some. Yes, choices must be made before the deadline to reach the 53-man roster limit arrives at 4 p.m. Saturday. But more of what happened off the field for Tampa Bay on Thursday -- guard Logan Mankins' introduction and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's absence -- made more of an impression.

Still, some players will remember their time under the lights.

"My heart was racing," Bucs wide receiver Solomon Patton said. "It's been racing since I got here. I just got out there, like I said, every down that I got. I just give it my all."

"I was pretty pleased with it," Bucs running back Jeff Demps said. "It would have been nice to get in the end zone. I haven't been there in awhile. But overall, I mean, it was a good night. And then I came out healthy."

Here are some thoughts from the Bucs' last preseason game against Washington ...

1. Quarterback Mike Glennon received just one series of play, which was a good thing.

Glennon received the start, though there was little more from him after a single quick series. He completed 2 for 3 passes for 10 yards, and soon after, he found a comfortable spot to park himself on the sidelines.

This was a smart call. Third-string quarterback Mike Kafka played the rest of the game and was harassed on a night when he finished 7-of-14 passing for 86 yards and one touchdown. There was no need to risk Glennon's health in a meaningless game.

The bigger question: Did Glennon accomplish anything memorable during the preseason? For a former starter, it would have been nice to see more flash from the second-year player in the past month. Still, Glennon should receive some slack. He played behind a bad offensive line throughout the preseason. It remains to be seen what he will offer if quarterback Josh McCown loses his grip on the starting job.

2. Demps shouldn't make the 53-man roster.

To little surprise, Demps received his largest workload of the preseason. He entered as a bubble player at best, and he did little to show he deserves to make the final cut. He finished with 20 carries for 59 yards.

Demps seems like a player who should be a dynamic presence. There's all that speed as a former track star. There's all that athletic potential within a 5-foot-8, 191-pound frame. But for whatever reason, it never translates to the field on game day.

Even with Mike James' shoulder injury and Charles Sims' ankle surgery, Demps' spot on the team seems tenuous. Patton has asserted himself as the coaching staff's return man of choice, so Demps failed to find a niche on special teams. The Bucs appear fine without him.

3. Bucs backups, as a whole, showed there's not much depth behind the starters.

Tampa Bay better hope many starters don't suffer major injuries this season. The theme of this preseason stayed true Thursday: There are things to like from the Bucs' top men on both sides of the ball, but the reserves leave much to be desired.

Aside from interceptions by cornerback Keith Lewis and linebacker Nate Askew in the second quarter, and a late third-quarter touchdown pass from Kafka to Patton, the reserves created few highlights. The following quote from coach Lovie Smith put an appropriate frame on the night.

"We told the guys to do something to make us put them on the team," he said. "Making big plays like (Lewis' interception) will at least make us take note."

In other words, do something for me to remember you.

4. Tedford's condition became overshadowed by the Richie Incognito and Mankins news this week, but the offensive coordinator's health will be curious to follow.

Tedford has been out since an undisclosed medical procedure was performed Monday. To little surprise, he wasn't at the game Thursday. The Bucs' offensive staff teamed up to take over his duties, and the mystery surrounding his future continues.

Smith has given positive reviews about Tedford's condition, but it's still unknown how long the first-time NFL coordinator will be out. Of course, Tedford's health -- whatever the issue is -- remains the largest concern. Everyone should hope for no major issues to come. But this is a less-than-ideal situation for the Bucs from a football perspective, especially with Tedford's offensive scheme remaining a work in progress.

The best-case scenario for the Bucs is Tedford returns as soon as possible, preferably in time to help finish game planning for the Panthers. It's hard to judge the residual effects of Tedford's absence, but there isn't much good about this for the offense's development.

5. Mankins didn't play Thursday, but his first public comments on this night since arriving in Tampa were interesting.

It's obvious adjustment for Mankins will be needed as he acclimates himself to his new environment. He seemed somewhat subdued as he addressed the media, calling his departure from former teammates and coaches in New England "a sad day." It's hard to blame Mankins for feeling the way he does. He became a franchise staple in New England. Leaving can't be easy.

Still, he has little time to waste before Week 1. He faces the daunting task of becoming acclimated with his new teammates and a different playbook before the Panthers arrive on Sept. 7. He's a 10th-year veteran, so he knows how to maneuver himself within NFL life. But this will be his greatest challenge since his introduction to the league as a rookie.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.

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