TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Saturday’s third and final preseason game will be one last opportunity for many players to make their case to be on the Bucs’ 53-man roster, or even the practice squad.
One player who’s put together a solid resume already this preseason is rookie linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi.
Fatukasi has led the Buccaneers in total tackles both against the Dolphins (6) and the Titans (10). He also recorded his first NFL sack in Tennessee, finishing with 1.5 sacks in the game.
“It felt great having the first sack,” Fatukasi said. “People [were] hitting me up after the game. And just how it feels to get a sack? It felt amazing.”
His work in the first two preseason games, and at training camp, has caught the eye of one of the veteran leaders on the team.
“I love it, man,” said Bucs linebacker Lavonte David. “Some great progression. From the start of training camp to now, we saw a great progression. He’s taking control when he’s out there. He’s a good leader, and you love to see it. He’s making plays when he’s supposed to be making plays and that’s what it’s all about. We always talk about being playmakers and he’s out there making those plays and all of those guys are coming along.”
Fatukasi’s performance has also stood out to Head Coach Todd Bowles. When asked after the Miami game who helped their case in making the team, Bowles mentioned Fatukasi by name, saying he “did some good things on defense.” Bowles had brought up Fatukasi earlier in training camp as well, highlighting him as a young player that “shows some flash.”
“Coming from an undrafted guy it does bring some encouragement to me and just put more motivation, more push every day when I wake up,” Fatukasi said about getting praise from his head coach.
But it’s not all-of-a-sudden that Fatukasi has popped-up on Bowles’ radar. When Bowles was the head coach of the Jets, he drafted Fatukasi’s older brother, Folorunso. In addition, Fatukasi was teammates with Bowles’ son, Todd Bowles Jr., at Rutgers.
“[Fatukasi’s] brother was a heck of a player – he still is,” Bowles said. “He’s a nose tackle – I think he’s in Jacksonville now. I really liked him at UConn. [ Fatukasi] has made a name for himself out of his brother’s shadow. I knew the person because I met him at Rutgers one time when I went to see my son. But he’s made a name for himself despite his brother, and he’s put himself in the mix and in a good position.”
“I just felt like it was crazy because when it happened, I put two and two together,” Fatukasi said. “It’s a coincidence how I played with his son at Rutgers and my older brother get drafted by Bowles when he first got to the league, so it was just crazy. It was like really a coincidence so I think it was meant to happen.”