Off a humbling lost to the mediocre-at-best 49ers team Sunday, the Bucs are now scrambling to make roster moves, as they prepare on a short week to travel and play Carolina Thursday night. And the team, is moving on from two of its starters a year ago in the process.
First Tampa Bay is placing safety Justin Evans on injured reserve due to his lingering foot and achilles problems. Buccaneers beat reporter for The Athletic, Greg Auman, had details on the corresponding move the Tampa Bay would be making:
Bucs' moves reported here — adding T Josh Wells, putting S Justin Evans on injured reserve — aren't on today's NFL transactions, so team may not formally announce until the morning.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) September 9, 2019
Evans, a former second round pick, has been plagued with foot injuries, as this is his third in the just two seasons. At the end of his rookie season, the Bucs put him Injured reserve after injuring his ankle against the Atlanta Falcons after making six combined tackles. He started 10 games a year ago and has 19 starts in his two seasons.
In Week 10 of the 2018 season, Evans injured his toe, and missed the next two games. In his first game back in Week 13, he was carted off the field in the second quarter after aggravating the toe injury. He missed two more games before being placed on injured reserve.
The Buccaneers have two other young safeties they’ve been counting on with Evans injured during preseason in Jordan Whitehead, who led them in tackles with eight in Sunday’s loss and 2019 third round pick, Mike Edwards. Auman further reported Tuesday morning that the team will bring back veteran safety Andrew Adams to help with depth at the position.
Adams was not re-signed as a free agent in the offseason and hooked on with the Lions. They cut him at the end of preseason and now the veteran can come back to the Bucs at cheaper cost after week one. This is because under CBA rules, players on the roster in the first week have their 2019 salary guaranteed.
It’s unlikely that Adams will play Thursday night in Charlotte, but if he were to be out there, he did have a three interception game late last season against Cam Newton and the Panthers.
Meanwhile, the addition of Wells, a former Jaguars tackle, is also motivated by the Buccaneers unhappiness with their offensive line.
That was further magnified when it was reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport later on Monday evening that the Bucs were cutting last year’s starting right guard, Caleb Benenoch.
Benenoch was originally drafted as a tackle out of UCLA in the fifth round of 2016, but played every game a year ago at right guard. He struggled mightily and was regarded as one of the worst interior lineman in football on a team that went 5 – 11.
The new coaching staff led by Bruce Arians and his offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich elected to keep Benenoch on board, as he was in the final year of his rookie contract and he made the 53 man roster. He was active Sunday, but saw no action on offense sitting behind second year guard, Alex Cappa.
Wells is a four-year veteran, who started seven games a year ago and 15 games in 2017 but did not fit into the Jaguars 2019 plans.
The Buccaneers offensive line had issues with the 49ers front for pass-rush Sunday, including multiple penalties, sacks and quarterback pressures of Jameis Winston allowed during pass protection. Tampa Bay’s offense scored only one touchdown, but had four turnovers in the defeat.
Bucs pass rusher Barrett named NFC Defensive Player of Week
Off their impressive Road win last Thursday night against division rival Carolina, the Buccaneers also got an individual accolades on Wednesday morning.
That’s when the NFL announced that edge pass-rusher Shaq Barrett had been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week:
And it's only the beginning.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) September 18, 2019
Barrett had a tremendous game, or should we say third quarter specificall, in the win over the Panthers. This as, he registered not one, but three quarterback sacks, in the third quarter of Tampa Bay’s 20 – 14 victory.
Barrett became the first Buccaneer since Simeon Rice in their Super Bowl season of 2002 to have that many sacks in a single 15 minute period. He’s also the first Bucs pass rusher to get three sacks in a single game since the 2015 season.
Barrett also had a sack in Tampa Bay’s week one loss against San Francisco and obviously, leads them now with four of them through the first two games. The four sacks in two games has matched the best start in sacking the QB in Buccaneers franchise history.
The last time the Bucs had a defensive player win player of the week honors, was also 2015. That’s when linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander each took home the honor in separate weeks.
The six year veteran came to Tampa Bay after having spent his first five years with the Denver Broncos. This included his being part of the Broncos Super Bowl 50 winning season of 2014.
Barrett had 14 career sacks coming into this season and is already thriving early in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ defense. The Bucs are pairing him on the outside with Carl Nassib in Bowles’ 3-4 scheme.
He is also the former Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year at Colorado State, where he had 12 sacks and three forced fumbles in his senior season and was eventually signed with Denver, as an undrafted free agent.
Bucs coach Arians rightfully fearing Giants RB Saquon Barkley
Regardless of the Giants starting rookie Daniel Jones at quarterback on Sunday, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians knows the real key for New York resides deeper in their backfield.
That’s where second-year running back Saquon Barkley is expected to be busy, especially early in the game. And, he may very well be the reason or not that New York has a chance to get their first win of the season Sunday in Tampa.
Arians made it clear right away at his Tuesday press conference that Barkley will be a challenge for a Buccaneer defense that has been stingy so far this year against the run:
"I’ve had the confidence all along… We have to practice the same this week, after a win, as we did after a loss. The sense of urgency can’t leave."
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) September 17, 2019
“He’s got more 50-yard runs than anybody I’ve seen in a long time,” Arians said. “He’s hard to bring down. He doesn’t run over many people – he runs around them and runs past them. The size and the speed combination are extremely rare.”
The Bucs held the 49ers in check for just 77 yards on the ground in their opening loss two weekends ago, but then, played even better against Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers running attack last Thursday night. They held McCaffrey to only 37 yards on 16 carries, including the biggest moment of the game. That’s when DB Vernon Hargreaves stopped McCaffrey one-on-one from getting the one needed yard to keep Carolina’s final drive alive and hopes of winning the game.
As for Barkley, he comes off a tremendous debut season with a 1,300 yards rushing and another 700 receiving. He’s arguably the best dual threat back in football.
And, with a 120 yd rush game on just 11 carries in the opening week game at Dallas, Barkley followed up with another 100 yard game last week against Buffalo registering 107 yards on 18 carries. Still, the Giants dropped both games and at 0- 2 and have decided to shake it up at QB.
Giants second-year coach Pat Shurmur will try to establish the run early on in the game to take the pressure off his rookie quarterback making his debut.
The Bucs know that as well and looked at stuff to run with Pro Bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh and former first-round pick Vita Vea. Both guys have been big keys in clogging up the middle and helping the Buccaneers stop the 49er and Panther backs.
And if they do so Sunday at home, it will be a big key for a second straight win.
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