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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers feeling good about Sweezy’s bad back

Roy Cummings



Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

TAMPA – Bad backs are like cable or satellite TV service. At some point or another, often when you least expect it, they go out on you. When they do, it’s never convenient.

Buccaneers right guard J.R. Sweeezy has a bad back. It was so bad last year that it had to be surgically repaired, ending his first season with the Bucs before it began, and backs that are surgically repaired have a tendency to go out more than those that aren’t.

Well guess what? Sweezy’s back went out on him. No one is quite sure when, but it seems as though it was yesterday in practice because Sweezy suddenly showed up on the Bucs injury report, listed as limited because of his back.

There is good news on that front this morning, though. The Bucs aren’t totally sure of course because you never really with bad backs but this tweak doesn’t seem to be all that bad.

The word we have out of One Buc Place is that Sweezy may even be back at practice today and that at this point at least, there is nothing to suggest he’s going to miss Sunday’s game against the Giants.

That has the Bucs breathing a sigh of relief because they’re already being forced to shake up their lineup at linebacker because of injuries and they certainly don’t want to have to do the same with their offensive line.

It would be interesting to see how they go about that, though. Even in the wake of a tough game last Sunday at Minnesota, where he was responsible for at least two bad snaps, The Bucs are committed to keeping former starting right guard Ali Marpet at center.

Should Sweezy go down, though, and with that bad back of his that’s always a possibility, they might opt to move Marpet back to right guard in an effort to keep their five best offensive linemen on the field.

That would leave either Joe Hawley, last year’s starter who has yet to play this year, as one option at center. The other would be Evan Smith, who has been splitting time at left guard with Kevin Pamphile.

Much to the chagrin of a lot of their fans, the Bucs passed on the opportunity to fortify their offensive line during the draft this year. The expected return of Sweezy was just one reason for that.

The Bucs also believe that offensive line is actually one of their deepest positions, largely because so many of their players there can play multiple positions.

That’s a good thing but the last thing they want to do is have to test that depth. At some point or another they’ll probably have no choice, what with Sweezy’s bad back and all, but it doesn’t look like that time is now.

At least not just yet.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

Florida Football Insiders



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off the best pass-rushing season in Buccaneers history, potential free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett was soaking things in Wednesday in Orlando.

That’s where the NFC and AFC top players have congregated for the 2020 Pro Bowl coming Sunday.

Barrett, who set the Buccaneers single-season sack record with 19.5 this past season, ended up being the lone Buccaneer able to play in the game. This, after receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had to bow out due to hamstring injuries.

Barrett got props on day one from one from Cardinals DE Chandler Jones, whom he battled for the sack title all the way down to the final Sunday of the season:

Barrett then got to hangout and sign autographs with the fans assembled at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The sixth year player out of Colorado State, who was originally undrafted but signed with the Broncos in 2014, then told the media, he’s looking for a big-money free-agent deal. And, further, his preference is that he stays in Tampa Bay.

After all, Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectation in 2019, while playing for a modest one-year free agent deal and betting on himself to cash-in. And now, after his agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bucs GM Jason Licht are done, it appears he will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year just like the top pass rushers in the NFL.

The Bucs also have the possibility of putting the franchise tag for 2020 on Barrett which would also be valued around that same amount for just the one season.

One final cool moment came Wednesday, where Barrett got introduced to a young Buccaneers fan who’s enduring tremendous family hardship with one parent battling cancer and another suffering from the debilitating ALS disease. After signing an autograph for the young man, Barrett gave him the surprise of his young life with two tickets to next weekend’s Super Bowl in Miami:

And just like that fantastic reward, Barrett will soon be similarly rewarded for his fantastic year and upcoming potential. And most likely, it will be in Tampa Bay for a long time.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night

Florida Football Insiders



Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The new present day cliche’ for respect among athletes/opponents in sports is: “Game Recognizes Game.” And, there was a neat example of that Saturday night, as the Houston Rockets of the NBA hosted the L.A. Lakers. That’s when iconic NBA star LeBron James of the Lakers came over to acknowledge Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in the seats behind him.

As you probably know, James is arguably the most recognizable and successful NBA hoops player worldwide in the last 10+ years. He’s a 15 time All Star, a four time MVP, and helped the Miami Heat win two World Championships. And, then came back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who originally drafted him out of high school, and led them to the city’s epic first professional title in any sport in over 50 years back in 2016.

And, LeBron has the Lakers rolling at 34-8 with another win in Houston last night.

As for Evans, he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon and was having a tremendous 2019 season statistically until it was cut short with a hamstring injury in the Bucs early December win over the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s when Evans suffered a severe hamstring injury on a 61 yard touchdown catch from Jameis Winston and did not play another down in 2019. Still, he joined teammate Chris Godwin, as they both went over 1,000 yards for the season, which was the first time in Tampa Bay history that that happened.

Evans is also only the second player in league history, besides Randy Moss, to have 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season in his first six years in the NFL.

Further, it’s also well-known that Evan is a huge fan of the NBA and he’s originally from Galveston, Texas and play in college at Texas A&M. So, it’s only fitting that he would be courtside during the off-season and the Rockets game against the Lakers.

Evans has made mention earlier in his career that he had met and talked to LeBron James on previous occasions. One reason that Evans brought that up during the season, was his touchdown celebration dance when Tampa Bay outgunned the L.A. Rams in late September.

In that 48 – 40 win Evans caught this clinching fourth-quarter bomb touchdown from Winston and then, celebrated with LeBron James’s signature dance move

James has previously and frequently used that on the court after a big moment, a big win or a championship.

Again “Game recognizes Game,” and clearly James wanted to give some recognition to the Bucs star whiteout Saturday night courtside at his own game.

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