BATTLE OF THE WEEK: CB Tim Wansley vs. Corey Ivy for the nickel back position. Ivy started against the Jets in place of Ronde Barber. His holding penalty sustained the Jets' TD drive.
Tim Wansley's 47-yard return for a touchdown of a fumble he caused by sacking Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger was the highlight of the game.
"That's the cycle," Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp said of Wansley's touchdown. "Sack, forced fumble, recovered fumble, touchdown. That's the cycle. No doubt about it, that's one swing for the cycle."
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Thomas Jones and Michael Pittman share a similar background, backfield and biceps.
"I think Mike may have me there," Jones said of Pittman's 19 1/2 inch guns.
Perhaps, but Jones just may be able to arm wrestle the starting tailback job away from his former Arizona Cardinals teammate.
After Saturday's 30-14 win over the New York Jets in the American Bowl Saturday, there should be no one doubting Thomas.
Jones rushed 11 times for 43 yards, including a bruising 4-yard touchdown run just 12 seconds before halftime. Consistency, however was a problem. Twenty-two of those yards came on a single run.
"I thought he ran the ball good," said Gruden. "He's a guy we expect to be a good runner. He's got a long way to go improving his pass protection. Again, a new player in our system, but he has talent. I thought it was a good start for him as a runner, but that's just part of his job.
"He's got to improve in his pass pickups, the understanding of his role in the passing game to be a guy that we consider an every down halfback. But he's off to a good start and he shows ability."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: QB Shaun King struggled last season as the Bucs' No. 3 quarterback and was defeated 17-7 by the Steelers in his only start, looked crisp and confident again.
He relieved Brad Johnson (4-for-8, 51 yards) after one series Saturday against the Jets and directed the Bucs to 13 points. It could've been more, but a diving catch of an apparent touchdown pass to Charles Lee was ruled incomplete and Tampa Bay was forced to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica.
"I thought he looked very comfortable," GM Rich McKay said of King. "I think the one thing I wrote in my notes is that last year, he got in one game, hadn't played the much and looked very uncomfortable. And I thought tonight he looked very comfortable in the system. His reads were real quick, the ball came out fast. He had a chance for a touchdown and threw a real good ball. He had what we thought we had because it's the way he's looked every day in practice."
King went 11-of-13 passing for 121 yards for an efficiency rating of 105.4.
ROOKIE REPORT: Tight end Will Heller (3 catches, 38 yards), receiver Charles Lee (3 catches, 36 yards) defensive end Dewayne White, receiver Fabian Davis were impressive in Saturday's game.
"The main thing about these games, especially the early preseason games is, how are the young guys going to play?" said McKay. "How are they going to handle playing under the big lights, the game is faster. But tonight was a good night for a lot of guys.
INJURY REPORT: RB Tony Taylor has torn ACL and will miss the entire season. LT Cornell Green has a right ankle sprain and his status is day to day. CB Ronde Barber (knee) and WR Keenan McCardell (knee) did not play in Saturday's American Bowl.