The third pre-season game is usually the most important. Starters play a much bigger bulk of the game and it’s the time when players just looking to make that final push for a roster spot need to shine brightest, and yes, you want to win despite the exhibition.

“Anytime you keep score you want to win,” Head Coach Lovie Smith said. “So we would like to win, but there’s a bigger picture, too. We need to see certain guys. If we were just interested in winning we would play our best players every down.”

Players like cornerback Alterraun Verner, Dashon Goldson, and Steven Means are getting or have gotten healthy, other key pieces like rookie RB Charles Sims, DE William Gholston, and RB Mike James are still working their way back but are players Lovie Smith has said time and again will contribute this season. For Sims, he’s never had a significant injury take him out of football like the ankle injury he just had successful surgery to correct.

“All the football I’ve played, this is my first.” Sims said after the Bucs wrapped practice Thursday. “Things happen and you just gotta deal with them.”

“You just came into the NFL and you want to make an impact right away and something happens to you that’s never happened before.” Said Lovie Smith talking about the injury to his rookie running back. “It’s humbling, but then you move on. You see that a lot of players go through injuries and have come back.”

NOTES: Thursday afternoon, the Bucs traded safety Kelcie McCray to the Kansas City Chiefs for G/C Rishaw Johnson.

The Bucs head to Buffalo for a 4:30 PM ET game with the Bills on Saturday. For more on this visit .


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