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Buccaneers have early injury concerns on right side of offensive line

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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It’s only the first preseason game, and it’s not as if the Buccaneers were going to show an awful lot on offense with their first two units, anyway. However, injuries have mounted up already in the first two week of camp and it means that some young and inexperienced players will be called upon to play some early on Thursday night in Miami.

First, the longest current tenured (nine seasons) Buc is RT Demar Dotson (above), and he is progressing nicely from off season knee surgery. Dotson has been back at practice but has also been held out of some reps and even entire workouts, while they bring the soon to be 33 year old along.

Dotson did practice on Tuesday during 11 on 11 work, but is not expected to see the field for Thursday night. Late last season the Bucs used former UCLA star Caleb Benonoch as a backup at right tackle, but he has also been nursing an undisclosed injury.

The Bucs had wanted use Benonoch at right guard some in this camp, but that is also on hold.

Good news is that Benenoch was able to practice Tuesday. It’s unclear how much, if at all, he will try to play against the Dolphins. The Bucs also have a young veteran tackle in Leonard Wester, but he’s been out of practice, including Tuesday. So, he is not likely to play in game one.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, addressed the banged tackle depth after Tuesday’s workout:

“We don’t necessarily want Donovan Smith to play with the threes (third team) because we don’t have any tackles left. We have some issues at a couple positions like that right now. Some positions better than others and we’ll work them out. We’re going to go out there and compete our tails off on Thursday night. I’m looking forward to it.”

Smith is anchoring the left side with Ali Marpet having moved to left guard for this season and new free agent Ryan Jensen in the middle. It’s believed that rookie and former Division II football star Alex Cappa, who’s taken some first team reps, will play significantly in the first half at right guard along with veteran Evan Smith.

As for the right tackle? It’s anyone’s guess until we see it Thursday night.

The Bucs announced late Tuesday afternoon that they had signed second year player T Jarron Jones, who was in the Giants training camp and also on the Cowboys practice squad last year.

Jones won’t be an option for Thursday, but maybe beyond.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians wouldn’t endorse Winston future Wednesday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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With four games to go, the Buccaneers have been improved the last two weeks and Come Away with victories. However the largest question still looming for them is what is the future of quarterback Jameis Winston be on this season?

And on Wednesday afternoon, first-year coach Bruce Arians created buzz when he refused to endorse Winston coming back for his second season.

Arians met with the media after Tampa Bay’s practice preparing for the Colts and was asked whether Winston had done enough to earn at least a contract for 2020?

“I’m gonna pass on that one. I’m gonna wait until the end of December. There’s been really, really good. And there’s been some really, really bad…. I’m just going to pass until it’s over. And then, we’ll make a decision.”

Winston is currently in the 5th year option of his rookie deal that is paying him $20 million for this season. If the Buccaneers choose to place the franchise tag on Winston, he would likely be making around $25 million for next year.

Winston has been a mixed bag of some success but still way too many turnovers. Heading into this weekend’s play, he currently is 2nd in the NFL in passing yards and tied for 6th with 22 touchdown passes. Winston also had a six-game stretch with 300 yards or more in each one of them, which was the first time in Buccaneers history the quarterback had done that.

However, he has been unable to shake the biggest flaw that has dogged him since his Florida State days, and that’s interceptions and turnovers. Winston still leads the NFL with 25 turnovers through 12 games.

And, this includes three games this season where Winston has had four or more turnovers (all losses), including four interceptions three weeks ago in a crushing home loss to the Saints.

Arians decided to soften his stance a bit during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NFL radio channel Wednesday night:

However, he still repeated that the decision will be made after the season.

And, it’s obvious that if Winston plays well and the Bucs win at least a couple of more games, then he’s got a great shot to be brought back. However, if Winston continues the turnover problem and the Bucs aren’t winning. that may seal his fate.

Tampa Bay has only one winning season and has never made the playoffs with Winston at the helm. And, the interceptions, turnovers and losing may be too much to overcome.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs bash Jacksonville- Jaguars to turn back to QB Minshew?

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
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The Bucs put together a third win in four games primarily with their defense stuffing the Jaguars on their way to a 28 – 11 victory Sunday. Meanwhile, there’s a larger question looming for the Jags. Will they turn back to rookie QB Gardner Minshew?

More on that in moment.

First, Tampa Bay forced four turnovers and turned the first three of them into touchdowns building a 22-0 lead and never looked back.

The first one was by rookie first-round pick linebacker Devin White, who jumped in front of a Nick Foles pass and the Bucs promptly marched 69 yards in eight plays for their first points, as Peyton Barber capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run and  7 – 0 lead.

The Buccaneers wasted no time in getting their second turnover and immediately, got back in the end zone. This as, just 10 seconds later Shaq Barrett blindsided Foles for a sack/fumble that was picked up by White.

He ran it in for his first NFL score, and Barber added a two-point conversion on a run and the lead grew to 15-0.

Foles, making his third start since returning from a broken collarbone in week one, and the Jaguars were actually moving the ball later in the second quarter. They got into the Red Zone, but he was sacked, again, this time by Carl Nassib and fumbled again. That was recovered by Ndamukong Suh, and Tampa Bay proceeded to drive 85 yards with Barber scoring again on a 1-yard run for the three touchdown cushion.

Down 25 – 0 starting the second half, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone went back to his starter earlier in the year- rookie sixth round pick Gardner Minshew. Minshew, who won four games in Foles’ absence, led Jacksonville on two scoring drives, including throwing a three yard TD to Dede Westbrook early in the fourth quarter. Minshew also scrambled and found Westbrook for the two-point conversion to trim the lead to 25 – 11.

It looked as though “Minshew Mania” was going to bite the Buccaneers, as the Jags drove inside the Tampa Bay 10-yard line with plenty of time remaining, but on a third-down and goal play, Minshew was intercepted by Buccaneers rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting which basically ended their comeback.

The Bucs added a Matt Gay field goal late in the fourth quarter for the final margin of 17 points.

Tampa Bay won back-to-back games for the first time this season and now will get three of the final four games of the year at home.

Meanwhile for Jaguars brass and Marrone, they definitely have  a controversy on their hands, as the Jags have dropped four straight games. And, Foles has played poorly in his two-and-a-half game since being reinstated as the starter.

The crowd was booing and chanting “Minshew, Minshew” loudly from the middle of the second quarter on.

But, it’s also not an easy decision from a financial standpoint, as Foles is still owed more is $30 million over the next couple of years in guaranteed money.

For his part, Marrone said that he would make the decision and inform the QBs about who will start against the Chargers at home this Sunday. And that could come, as soon as Monday.

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