To the naked gridiron eye, tonight's preseason finale between the Texans and Buccaneers might not mean much. After all, most eyes are focused 10 days away, to the start of the regular season.
But if you're a starter tonight, this is your last chance to work out the kinks before the games start counting. And if you're a reserve scrambling for one those final precious roster spots, this is your last chance to dazzle the coaching staff before The Turk makes his final rounds.
"The game Thursday night is a key game for a lot of players," head coach Dom Capers said. "It is our last chance to evaluate them. We'll make our roster decisions and go down to 53 (players) after this game. This is their final opportunity to really show us what they're capable of doing."
Six weeks of blood, sweat and tears could come down to a few snaps. That's the nature of the NFL these days, when teams are separated by such razor-thin margins. Rest assured there are some butterflies in both locker rooms right now. To those players, this is anything but a meaningless game.
The Houston Texans host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight at Reliant Stadium in the final 2004 dress rehearsal for both teams. In 10 days, the Texans will open the regular season against the Chargers, while the Bucs will kick off at Washington.
This marks the third consecutive year these teams have closed the preseason against
one another. Last year, the Bucs won 34-3 in Tampa. Two years ago, Tampa Bay won
17-13 here in Houston.
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