TAMPA – The idea of having to play 16 games without a break isn’t sitting well with the Buccaneers, but the idea of having another week to prepare for their season debut is sitting very well with some of their players.
Take veteran right tackle Demar Dotson, for example. Dotson is still recovering from a groin strain he suffered late in the preseason so he actually welcomed the postponement of Sunday’s season opener against the Dolphins.
“Yeah, I was kind of hoping that we’d push (the game) to the bye week because it would give me an extra week to get my groin feeling a whole lot better,’’ Dotson said.
“I would have been ready to go. I would have played no matter what, but I probably would have been at like 80-percent. But with an extra week to get ready now, it should be phenomenal.’’
The Bucs have an extra week to get ready because the NFL postponed their opener against the Dolphins, scheduled for 1 p.m. in Miami, to avoid conflicts with Hurricane Irma.
The Bucs and Dolphins are now scheduled to play their game at Hard Rock Stadium on Nov. 19, the day both teams originally shared a bye week, which means both teams must now play 16 games in a row.
No one is looking forward to that, but players such as Dotson and defensive end Jacquies Smith believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for them.
“It’s a big deal for me to have this extra week to get ready,’’ said Smith, who only returned to practice on Monday after missing all of training camp and the preseason with a knee injury.
“Obviously, I get another week, a couple extra days to get on the practice field, and get some more time to recover and go back and look at what I’ve been doing in practice and that’s a positive for me.’’
It could be a positive for the Bucs as well. Smith, who has 13.5 sacks in 28 career games, figures to be an integral part of their pass rush and the extra week could result in him getting more playing time in the opener.
One of the options the NFL was believed to be considering was playing the Bucs-Dolphins game at a neutral site. Interestingly, that idea was even less popular with some players than postponing the game.
“I don’t think the neutral site would have worked,’’ said safety T.J. Ward, who just came to the Bucs over the weekend after he was cut by the Broncos on Saturday.
“I mean, for both teams to go to another city and fill up a stadium – not likely. I’d rather do without the bye. Playing at a neutral site would have been like a scrimmage against nobody. It just didn’t make sense to me.’’
Report- Bucs aren’t trading tight end OJ Howard
There’s no doubt the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have begun to struggle with three losses in their last four games while on a bye week. However, a report Thursday says they’re not looking to sell off one of their premium young players before the trade deadline.
Despite inquiries from other teams, former first-round pick tight end O.J. Howard apparently will not be on the move.
That’s according to ESPN Buccaneers reporter, Jenna Laine, who went on Tampa Bay radio Thursday and said as much, and then repeated it on social media:
For those who missed this yesterday…I’m told there’s no plan to trade O.J. Howard. Teams who have inquired are being told he’s not available. https://t.co/rYq4mugVPQ
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) October 17, 2019
There have been numerous reports of teams inquiring about the third-year tight end from Alabama whose had a disappointing 2019 so far. Howard, known for his size and agility in the passing game, has only 13 catches for 176 yards and no TDs in the first six Tampa Bay games.
And in the last 2 weeks, Howard had only one catch in New Orleans and just two catches in London in the loss to the Panthers. In both games, he did not catch a pass in the second half.
Now, In fairness, Tampa Bay does have a lot of pass-catching weapons starting with receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and Howard’s fellow tight end Cameron Brate. Brate is one of the personal favorite targets of quarterback Jameis Winston, especially on third down and in the redzone, where he caught a TD last week.
Howard, who was taken 19th overall in the 2017 draft, is in the third year of his deal that is paying him $1.5 million this season. He is slated to make $2 million next year and there is a fifth year option on his rookie deal, as well.
And while that makes him attractive to another team from a salary standpoint, it’s the same for the Bucs, their GM Jason Licht (who drafted Howard) and their long-term plans for the roster and the cap.
Howard has also finished his first two seasons on IR with ankle injuries near the end of them, as well.
The Bucs will come off the bye and play the Titans in Nashville, and a loss would drop them to 2-5 and only fuel speculation more that they might look to trade off a player or two before the end of the month.
Bucs repeated blunders lead to London defeat
Despite traveling over 4000 miles to London, it was a day to forget for the Bucs in their rematch with the Panthers on Sunday. Tampa Bay and QB Jameis Winston had enough misuses for a month of football, including 7 turnovers, as they dropped a 37 – 26 defeat at the hands of Carolina.
Winston was the biggest culprit, as he threw five interceptions (a career high) and also lost a number fumble in what was one of his worst performances of his five year career. And, even though his final stat line showed a 400 yards passing, Winston, with shaky from the very beginning. He threw an interception on the first play of the game to Panthers DB James Bradberry. This while trying to hit WR Mike Evans (catchless last week) over the middle.
Carolina only got a field goal though to make the game 3-0. And, after two Bucs punts on the next two possessions, Carolina marched 99 yards and ended up with in a short Christian Mccaffery one yard TD and a 10 – 0 lead.
One of the few breaks the Bucs got at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium Sunday came when Carolina punt returner Ray Ray McCloud fumbled early in the second and Tampa Bay recovered. A short time later, Ronald Jones got the Buccaneers on the board with a five yard score to close the Carolina lead to 10-7.
Little did the Bucs, Winston and coach Bruce Arians know that it would be the closest they would get the rest of the day.
Later in the second, Winston had his arm hit by the Panthers Bruce Irvin and his pass was picked, again. And, it set up McCaffery’s second TD, a 25 yard catch and run to make it 17-7 Carolina in the half.
Christian McCaffery is the most athletic white man in the world pic.twitter.com/DfYk6bHDUN
— NFL Humor (@NFLHumor) October 13, 2019
Then, after halftime, the Bucs punted on their first possession and then, after a Panthers field goal made it 20-7, Winston once again threw a bad pass over the middle for his third interception of the game. This one to Pro Bowl LB Luke Kuechley, who ran it down to the Bucs 8 yard line. Next, WR Curtis Samuel scored on a handoff and at 27-7, the issue was basically decided.
Yes, the Bucs continued to scrap and Winston actually got them in the endzone twice in the fourth quarter and finished with 400 yards passing, on the number. However, most of that was against softer coverage while Carolina led big in the second half.
Besides the five INTS, Winston also fumbled away another red zone scoring opportunity after he was hit and sacked. Then, a fourth quarter Bobo Wilson muffed punt led to Panthers field goal and the game back to an easy double digit lead. Again, -6 in the turnover margin was as horrific as it gets for Tampa Bay.
The Panthers are now rolling, including second year QB Kyle Allen getting his fourth straight win in relief of the injured Cam Newton. Plus, Carolina got their revenge from a loss a month ago in Charlotte by winning in their first ever trip to the U.K.
However, this day was more about a Bucs offense, and Winston specifically, that both looked so good in a 55-40 win two weeks ago in L.A. doing the exact opposite for most of this Sunday in a bad defeat.
Tampa Bay now stands 2-4 headed to their bye and knows that the turnovers must stop, or the year will get more sour and very quickly.
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