The Bucs begin the regular season at New Orleans Sunday without many of the key players on offense having even practiced much together this offseason.
Quarterback Jeff Garcia played in just one preseason game and did not inspire confidence by throwing two interceptions. He participated in 32 plays and rarely practiced due to a calf injury he sustained Sunday.
Receiver Joey Galloway missed all four preseason games and training camp. He will have four practices heading into Sunday's game. Fullback B.J. Askew did not practice since having arthroscopic surgery on his foot Aug. 15. Running back Earnest Graham carried 10 times for 20 yards in the preseason. Warrick Dunn had two fewer attempts than that.
Ike Hilliard was among 22 starters who did not play in the final preseason game.
So will all the rest result in rust for the Bucs?
"(Preseason) is not overrated, but I think what we missed out on was practice time together," Garcia said. "It's not even about the games as much as it is how much practice time we've missed. It's something that we can't do anything about it. We've just got to try to make up for lost time and do the best with a couple extra days of practice and find a way to get into rhythm and not think about it too much. I think if you start to think about it and focus upon it, that's when it starts to affect you."
The Bucs will have about eight days of practice prior to playing in New Orleans Sunday. According to Dunn, that will have to make due.
"One of the most important things isn't the preseason games, it's that guys haven't practiced together. I think Jeff didn't play well his last outing because he really didn't practice," Dunn said. "I think guys just have to get comfortable. And Joey, over the last week, he started being out with the team a little more, running routes, just really getting comfortable. And you have to. You can't not practice and be effective. This is not that type of sport."
Each week Bucsblitz.com’s Matthew Postins will analyze the top five issues facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that week. In this opening edition, Postins analyzes the Bucs’ player moves, including Eugene Wilson, Sean Mahan and Dan Buenning, along with why the Bucs might be worried just a bit about WR Joey Galloway. Get the scoop right here.