The fourth and final game of the preseason typically sees teams rest key players and give those further down the depth chart a chance to prove themselves. Tampa Bay may follow a similar path in Wednesday's game at Washington, but the Bucs must also sort through what moves they will make along the offensive line to account for the loss of two-time Pro Bowl G Davin Joseph.
Joseph was placed on injured reserve this week after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The veteran lineman was injured in last Friday's win over New England.
"You mourn it and then you move forward," coach Greg Schiano told Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune. "He'll be part of the moving forward because he'll be here, helping out in addition to getting his rehab."
As part of that "moving forward" the Buccaneers will try to find a replacement at right guard. Among those on the current roster, Ted Larsen, Derek Hardman and Jamon Meredith could figure prominently into the plans, and Schiano did not rule out the possibility of the team adding another lineman after teams cut their rosters to 53 on Friday.
The injury to Joseph served as a reminder of just how significant a single injury can be -- and why depth is so important in the NFL -- writes Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times. Jones offered his list of five players the Bucs can least afford to lose heading into the season, led by several prominent names.
- Former coach Morris set to battle his old team: Raheem Morris lost his last 10 games as the Bucs' head coach before being fired at the end of the 2011 season. After three years in control in Tampa Bay, he stepped back to where he got his start: as a secondary coach, this time with the Redskins. Morris told Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune he harbors no bitterness towards the Bucs for firing him and is enjoying the challenge of learning to teach the 3-4 defense after years of working under the 4-3 favored by longtime Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. "I don't look back and think of what happened in Tampa in negative terms at all,'' Morris said. "I was given a great opportunity there and we put together a good season (in 2010) and then we came back and, for whatever reason, we just didn't do as well last year."
- Bubble watch in full effect for preseason finale: With the final cuts to make the 53-man roster only days away, the game against the Redskins will be an important last chance for those on the bubble to show Schiano and the coaching staff why they deserve to stick around. Thus, the Tampa Tribune's Roy Cummings has a list of five things to watch against Washington, and three are positions where cuts may prove difficult to make: wide receiver, defensive back and running back. Stephen F. Holder of the Tampa Bay Times offered his picks for five specific players to watch, and not surprisingly, all are on the bubble.
- Secondary a potential strength: With a mix of talented newcomers and proven veterans, the back end of the Bucs' defense could be a real point of strength, writes Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune. The team's pass defense was 21st in the NFL a season ago -- far better than its last-place run defense, but still nothing to boast about. But with rookie S Mark Barron teaming with veteran Ronde Barber, and corners Eric Wright and Aqib Talib looking strong this preseason as well, the secondary looks considerably better heading into the regular season.
For more from Tampa Bay Bucs blogger Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsNFLTB on Twitter.