The NFL released the official list of dates for opponents for 2019 schedule on a Wednesday night. And so, we have decided to take a “tongue and cheek look” at all of the state pro teams schedules and give you the assessment from the point of view of the fan, who thinks his team has been slighted.
So in this case, here we go with the release of the Buccaneers schedule:
First, even the biggest Buccaneer fan would have to concede the schedule maker is doing the Bucs of favor by having them at home for the first time in five Seasons to begin the Bruce Arians era. Tampa Bay will play against the San Francisco 49ers a team that Arians has beaten a bunch in the past.
But there’s not much else positive especially early on with the schedule.
Tampa Bay will play at Carolina just four nights later for Thursday Night Football in a place where the Panthers have had tremendous success against the Buccaneers including in Prime time games.
Then, after getting a game with the Giants at home the Buccaneers will embark on an odyssey, and that’s what it is-an odyssey, of games all over the continent and the globe over the course of the next seven weeks. I
n that time none of the games will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
From the September 22nd home game against the Giants and until Arians goes against his former team the Cardinals on November 10th, the Buccaneers basically leave Raymond James Stadium for two months.
Buccaneers will not play in Tampa from 9/22 until 11/10, a stretch that includes five consecutive road games (two west-coast trips and a London game).
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 18, 2019
And these are not just short commutes. Week four at the LA Rams, the following game against the perennial best team in the South, the Saints, then week 7 in London, England, to rematch Carolina. Next, a bye week on the road at Nashville in a shorter travel situation.
However, the “journey” continues the following week all the way to the Pacific Northwest to play Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in a week nine battle on November 3rd!
Granted, the Buccaneers will play five of their final eight games in Tampa, but will they still have any legs left for that stretch run after all of those tough opponents and the travel?
And it’s also weird for the Bucs that starting December 1st, they have five games in the month but only one of them, the last one against Atlanta December 29th, at home. And, that’s also the only NFC South game to close out, to try to make up ground potentially in a wildcard battle, and (don’t laugh) a possible division chase.
Three of the December games are against the AFC South, including having Andrew Luck and the Colts in on December 8th and J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans in town for the weekend of December 21 – 22. In both of those cases, those teams are likely playoff contenders in must-win mode in the other conference.
With plenty of ammunition above, you can see where a Buccaneer fan (wink, nod) thinks the schedule maker hates his team.
Bucs WR Mike Evans still not practicing
The Bucs were back on the practice field Wednesday morning getting ready for their third preseason game on Friday night with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. However, once again, they are without their top receiver, Mike Evans, who remains sidelined with an injury.
Buccaneers beat reporter for The Athletic, Greg Auman, tweeted that Evans was not out on the practice field during the portion that is open to the media:
Mike Evans not practicing today means Mike Evans isn't playing Friday, and he's not playing next week, which means he'll finish the preseason without a catch. He's as known a commodity as the Bucs have on their roster though.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 21, 2019
Evans pulled up during a drill in Sunday’s practice and head coach Bruce Arians made mention of the injury on Monday:
“Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious,” Arians told the media.
It is reportedly a leg injury to Evans’ quadriceps that is hampering him.
The Bucs are not required to talk about injuries, much less the severity of them, at this stage. And, it’s not believed that there will be any further updates on Evans this week.
However, it’s easy to conclude the Tampa Bay will not risk playing him in the third preseason game and is Auman tweeted, the starters never play in the fourth preseason game which will be next Thursday in Dallas.
So clearly, Tampa Bay is resting and rehabbing Evans for the season opener with the 49ers.
Evans, a Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago, is the top target of QB Jameis Winston. A year ago he caught for a career high 1,524 yards and also career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.
Evans had 86 receptions, which were the second most of his five year career, in 2018, and he’s one of three receivers in NFL history to have 1,000+ receiving yards in each of his first five seasons. Hall of Famer, Randy Moss and A.J. Green are the other two.
Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week. However, he’s been very durable since then, playing in 47 of the 48 games the last three years, having missed only a 2017 game while suspended for his role in a fight against the Saints.
This info comes on Evans’ birthday, as he turns just 26 today.
Bucs RB Ronald Jones back at Tuesday practice
Bucs fans can exhale on the knee injury for running back Ronald Jones, at least for now.
Jones was seen at the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday afternoon with his left knee heavily wrapped but, most importantly, participating in drills in full pads.
Ronald Jones back at practice today with his knee heavily taped but moving pretty good. Certainly not 100. %Mike Evans still out but it’s not a serious. pic.twitter.com/RHDR80qfqn
— FanStreamSports JP (@FanStreamJP) August 20, 2019
Jones had not practiced the last two days of Bucs training camp with what was described as a swollen knee suffered after playing in Friday night’s preseason game with the Dolphins.
As we wrote yesterday, coach Bruce Arians provided a brief update after practice into Jones’ situation,
“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him.”
Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time, where starters for the regular season play significantly. The Bucs are set to host the Cleveland Browns Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.
When asked about Jones’ chances to play or whether the team would play it safe, Arians briefly said:
“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok.”
Jones appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the Friday night. That’s what can be seen this photo on social media from Tampa Bay sports reporter Kevin O’Donnell showing Jones knee clearly in an awkward spot when he planted:
Wondering why #Bucs runningback Ronald Jones knee is sore? This is the opening kickoff Friday night against the Dolphins. Rojo didn’t practice yesterday. Looks like a hyperextension to me. pic.twitter.com/mVmW86E96x
— Kevin ODonnell Fox13 (@ODonnellFox13) August 19, 2019
Jones did carry the ball twice for 7 yards later in the first quarter of the game before being shut down for the night.
Jones has been one of the standouts of the Bucs offseason and training camp with glowing updates repeatedly from Arians about his progress and his chances of seeing significant playing time. He missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.
However, he is expected to challenge incumbent starter from last year Peyton Barber for playing time/carries, once the regular season gets underway in two weeks.
Another obvious point, if his knee was sprained or worse, the Bucs would not have had on the field in full uniform trying to run and cut, even at a reduced speed. So, that’s also a positive.
For now, we await Arians’ and the teams plans for using Jones, or not, against the Browns later today and tomorrow.