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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs finally back home leads our Sunday primer

Florida Football Insiders



Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Two state NFL teams are in action with one finally back at home and the other in the heartland of America. This as the Bucs will play host to the Cardinals and the Dolphins will take on the Colts in Indianapolis.

First, in the early game in Tampa, it is the first time in seven weeks that the Buccaneers have played a game at Raymond James Stadium. In the interim, they have been in five different cities including in Europe (London) to play games away from home. In that time, Tampa Bay has gone on 1-4, including losing their last four games.

So, off of last week’s tough overtime loss to the Seahawks, which dropped their record to 2 – 6, it is not an over-exaggeration the Buccaneers season is now on the line with today’s game and next week’s game at home against the Saints.

As we wrote earlier this week, the Buccaneers pass-catching tandem of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin continue to be at the top of the league in terms of production. They will have a chance to feast on what has been a mostly bad Arizona pass defense. However, the Cardinals have welcome back Pro Bowl defensive back Patrick Peterson, recently off of a six-game league suspension for a PED violation.

Arizona comes in with first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury and number one overall pick quarterback Kyler Murray, who has actually played well at times. The game also features Bucs first-year coach Bruce Arians going against his old team, as he led the Cardinals to the playoffs on two occasions earlier this decade.

Meanwhile for the Dolphins, they will try to make it back-to-back wins for the first time since the middle of last season, when they take on Indianapolis later Sunday afternoon.

The Colts will be without starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who has played very well for them this season but suffered a sprained knee in the Steelers game last week and did not return. The Colts will go with backup Brian Hoyer in this one at home.

Miami is dealing with an significant injury themselves as one of their top receivers rookie free agent Preston Wilson suffered a torn ACL in the first half of last week’s win over the Jets. The NFL also suspended running back Mark Walton for four games earlier this week for his multiple off field arrest this past offseason.

That means that second-year running back Kalen Ballage and rookie Myles Gaskin will get a much stronger look for the next few weeks running the ball.

This game will also put to the test with the Dolphins are truly trying to win games or not, in the second half of the year and damage their draft position after an 0-7 start.

Miami has held a double-digit lead in the first half of each of the last two games and put the Jets away at home for their first victory of the season last week by creating turnovers and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick playing well

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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