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Bucs start off preseason schedule with sloppy loss to Eagles

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It’s only preseason. Repeat that to yourself a few hundred times.

It doesn’t count. It’s just practice. It’s pretend football.

Got it?

The Bucs opened their preseason play Thursday night in the worst possible way, giving up a touchdown on a turnover inside a minute, then doing it again inside of five minutes in a 17-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Not how I drew it up,” said coach Dirk Koetter.

Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t count. But if you were hoping the Bucs would open their preseason looking like a team that had made great progress from last year’s 6-10 record, well, you’ll have to wait for another week.

Pretty much, this is how it went:

Worst start: Five seconds into the game, returner Kenny Bell fumbled the opening kickoff. The Eagles recovered, and three plays later, Ryan Matthews ran it in from the five.

Whoops, they did it again: On the Bucs’ second possession, quarterback Jameis Winston had the ball knocked away by Fletcher Cox, who recovered on the 12. Chase Daniels ran this one in for a 14-0 lead. In all, the Bucs had five turnovers in the game.

Best Hope: After his fumble, quarterback Jameis Winston actually played fairly well. He hit seven-of-nine passes for 97 yards, a rating of 148.6. He hit wide receiver Russell Sheppard with a 26-yard touchdown.

Running on Empty: The Bucs simply couldn’t run the ball against the Eagles. They ran it 21 times for 31 yards. Newly rich running back Doug Martin carried it five times for 13 yards, and six of those came on his first run.

Rough start: Roberto Aguayo (yes, he was drafted in the second round) hit the upright on his first NFL extra point. He did hit a 38-yard field goal later.

Best unit: The Bucs’ regular rotation had four sacks in the first half. “It would be hard to find fault with them,” said Koetter.

Déjà Vu: The Bucs, one of the most penalized teams in the NFL last year, were called 10 times for 92 yards.

Third and nowhere: The Bucs were three of 14 on third down.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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