For the black and gold Saturday night, there was a lot of black, not much gold. A lot of ugly, poor performances. Isaiah Buggs was one of the few shiny, bright spots on the teams, finishing the preseason with a thee-tackle performance against the Carolina Panthers. His play was better than those stats might suggest, routinely winning the point of attack and making stops against the run.
Buggs came into this summer as a guy who needed an excellent camp. He got one, thanks to his work ethic. After the game, he spoke to reporters about what he’s done this year.
“Mike T is a coach that wants to see everybody succeed,” Buggs said. “We have areas where we all need work and improvement. I’ve been working my tail off trying to improve those aspects of the game of rushing. Overall, collectively I just think I did a great job of trying to improve myself. The only thing I can do is continue to work.”
Buggs has made an impressive push for a roster spot along a crowded defensive line. In our camp recap, we noted his steady play against the run, overall consistency, and improved hand use. Here’s what we wrote.
“Buggs play showed he was stout at the point, got off blocks, and got into the opposing backfield. It felt like he was more consistent than year’s past too. His play has warranted a spot on the 53 but this team will have tough decisions to make there.”
He earned a solid grade of “B” from us for his efforts. While Buggs has primarily lined up as a nose tackle, he can play up and down the line, increasing his versatility and value.
“We got to learn how to play all around up front. I’m doing a great job of moving all across the line and trying to show my skills.”
It’s been a question of which was more improved – Buggs’ pass rush or Carlos Davis’ run defense. And it’s still unclear who is coming out on top. But Buggs has earned and deserved a roster spot, even if it doesn’t ultimately happen. There is a chance the team keeps seven defensive linemen, adding Buggs and Davis on the roster. That’s a rarity but with the talent there and Stephon Tuitt’s absence, his Week One status remains unclear, keeping an extra guy might be the right move. We’ll find out Tuesday when the team makes it final cutdowns.