Each week Saintsinsider.com and Bucsblitz.com will take you inside the top matchup from that week’s game. We’re not talking about a thumbnail preview. We’re going in-depth to show you how this matchup will affect the upcoming game. Today, we tell you which Bucs receiver and which Saints cornerback will deeply impact Sunday’s game. Get the scoop right here.
It's one thing for the Bucs to rely on some older players - Jeff Garcia (38), Joey Galloway (36) and Warrick Dunn (33). It's another thing to rely on them when they haven't practiced or played much together.
The Bucs will try to accomplish something for the first time in the NFC South - defend their division title. It begins Sunday against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.
But even coach Jon Gruden doesn't know what to expect from his team Sunday, with all the old and new faces in key places that haven't practiced much together.
Garcia suffered a groin strain Aug. 31 and played in only one preseason game, throwing two interceptions against the Jaguars. Galloway, who underwent shoulder surgery following the Bucs' wildcard loss to the Giants last season, did not play or practice in the preseason because of a groin strain.
Both claim they are healthy enough to start Sunday. In Garcia's case, his feelings could still be hurt. He narrowly missed a $1-million playing time incentive and did not get a contract extension in the off-season. Then Garcia had to deal with the Bucs' flirtation with Brett Favre.
"I mean, things are still happening within the last two years of playing good, quality football and helping two teams win division titles and being a Pro Bowl player," Garcia said. "And yet, it never seems to be enough. And I understand we're always trying to find ways to get better and I'm the same way. I'm always trying to find ways to get better and I think that's what allows me to continue to compete at a high level because I don't always become content in my job. I feel I can always play better."
The reason for optimism is the rare continuity at the quarterback position. Garcia, who threw 13 touchdown passes and four interceptions last season, should be more effective.
"I really believe I will be better," Garcia said. "It was like tunnel vision last year because I couldn't open up to everything around me because I felt so fixed on my job and what I had to do. Now, because it's more natural, I feel I can be better at my job. I can be less thinking on the field and more reacting, which is important in this game. You can't afford to think too much because you lose time when you do that and we miss out on opportunities. I feel like that's something I can be better at this year, taking advantage of opportunities on the field. Hopefully, being more productive at the position, which will make the position even better."
But against the Saints, the Bucs face a tough challenge on defense. quarterback Drew Brees is one of the best around and the Saints get running back Deuce McAllister back to go with Reggie Bush and tight end Jeremy Shockey.
"He's looked good in the preseason," Gruden said of McAllister. "All you've got to do is see the sharp cutback he made against the Dolphins in the final preseason game. He's a great warrior and him and Reggie will give them a nice one-two combination. This is a talented football team for sure."
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.