When the Bucs hired Bruce Arians in January, he made it clear that Jameis Winston would be the starting quarterback for the franchise. However, he also made reference to the fact that there would be at least one or more options ready to go behind him, if needed.
So, the Bucs are following through and bringing in a veteran that Arians is already familiar with from his Arizona days to back up Winston.
Gregg Auman, Buccaneer beat writer for The Athletic, reported first Monday afternoon that Tampa Bay will signing former Titans quarterback from 2018 and former number 1 pick of the Jaguars, Blaine Gabbert:
Nothing final, but expect Bucs to sign veteran QB Blaine Gabbert as a backup in next 24 hours. Played under Arians/Goodwin/Leftwich in Arizona in 2017, was just cut by Titans last week.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) March 25, 2019
Gabbert was the 10th overall selection of the Jags in 2011 out of Missouri and flopped miserably in his three seasons in North Florida with a 5-22 record before being released. Gabbert then hooked on in San Francisco as backup and part time starter for 13 games between 2014 – 16 with a 4 and 9 record for the 49ers.
Gabbert then signed with the Cardinals for the 2017 season, which was Arians last as head coach in the “Valley of the Sun.” He was 2 and 3, as a late season starter that year.
The well-traveled 29 year old then landed, as a backup for Marcus Mariota in Tennessee last season, and took over as a starter, again late in the year, when Mariota was injured. He won two games for Tennessee as they tried to make the playoffs as a wild-card team. However, Mariota returned for their finale’ with Indianpolis who beat them for that final playoff spot.
Gabbert was released last week, when Tennessee traded for Miami veteran Ryan Tannehill to backup Mariota.
So needless to say, the Buccaneers will be getting a well traveled vet with some experience that has played for four different teams in his eight-year NFL career with a total of 48 starts.
And it also fits the mold of him being a solid backup, but not a threat to replace Winston in a quarterback competition. That’s key because Winston was involved in just such a situation of back and forth with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick a year ago.
Fitzpatrick started the first three games, while Winston was suspended by the NFL and Winston was also later benched again, in October in favor of Fitzpatrick, as the Bucs tried to salvage their season.
Tampa Bay and GM Jason Licht made it clear in January that Winston’s fifth year option would be picked up and he would be their starter for this season no matter who the head coach would end up being.
That turned out to be Arians who is known as a quarterback Guru from having worked with the likes of Ben Roethlisberger Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning earlier in his career.
Tampa Bay has also re-signed young veteran Ryan Griffin, who they’ve had on their roster as a third string quarterback for the last 3 years, but think very highly of. Griffin has never played in the regular season for Tampa Bay.
So, the Bucs obviously believe in having multiple options, if needed behind Winston, in what is a critical year for his future in Tampa Bay.
Injury concerns for Bucs RB Jones and WR Evans
The start of fourth week of training camp has a couple of concerns for Buccaneers offensive stars, receiver Mike Evans and running back, Ronald Jones.
Neither player participated in the Bucs latest workout Monday, and now there’s some doubt as to whether either will play in Friday night’s third preseason game with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium?
The Bucs are not required by the NFL to give any update on injuries at this point, unless they choose to, but head coach Bruce Arians provided a brief one after practice.
“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him. Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious.”
Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time where starters for the regular season play significantly.
When asked if both would be held out Friday night, Arians briefly said:
“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok. I’m not sure about Mike.”
First, on Evans, the Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago pulled up on a pass drill Sunday during practice and although the Bucs aren’t saying anything, there’s concern that he may have sustained a hamstring injury of some type. Tampa Bay is heavily counting on Evans to be their go-to weapon, especially on third down. A year ago he caught for 1,524 yards and a career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.
Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week.
As for Jones, he appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the Dolphins 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 leader 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. Jones missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.
Now, we wait to see how long he and Evans will be out.
Positive injury update news for Bucs DT Vita Vea
Bucs coach Bruce Arians gave another positive update Sunday on one of his star defensive players he’s counting on to come back from injury. It looks like hulking defensive tackle Vita Vea is still on track to potentially play in the season opener September 8th.
After the Buccaneers Sunday morning training camp workout, Arians was asked, if there was any new news on Via resting and rehabbing the sprained ligament in his left knee? He told the media:
"Obviously, when you’re put in game-winning situations and your young players perform, you’re proud of them, and they did exactly that."
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 18, 2019
“He’s getting better and better everyday. No pain (in the knee). So, I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’s gonna be ready (opening day),” Arians said plainly.
The former first-round pick a year ago out of the University of Washington was injured almost two weeks ago in a one-on-one pass blocking drill, crumbling to the ground with the Bucs and their fans holding their breath. However it turns out it was only a sprain ligament that did not require surgery and Vea could still possibly play at the beginning of the regular season, including the opener with the 49ers.
Vea was seen walking on the sideline Friday night during the Bucs preseason game with the Dolphins with the aid of a heavily braced left knee.
This is the second straight training camp that Vea has been sidelined with a significant injury. Last year, he suffered a torn calf muscle on the second day of workouts and missed all of the preseason and the first three games of the regular season recovering from the injury and getting into playing shape.
When he did comeback, Vea came on strong in the second half of the season and began to show signs of promise, as to why the Bucs had picked him in the top 15 of the draft. He had a career high nine tackles in a December game in Baltimore and was all over the line of scrimmage and the backfield causing disruptions.
Then, in Dallas the following week, he was once again making plays early in the game. Although, he had a first-half sack Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott nullified by a face mask penalty, he got another one that counted by blindsiding Prescott on the final play of the first half.
Vea finished with three tackles, the sack and one tackle for loss in that game. And, in the second half of the season, he ended up with 28 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss in eight games.
Vea is being heavily counted on to help the interior of the Bucs defensive line in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3 – 4 defense. He along with new free agent pro bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh are going to be the guys relied upon to get pressure up the middle for the defense.