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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs grab veteran former Cardinals lineman Earl Watford

Florida Football Insiders



Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians continues to put his stamp on his new team by bringing in familiar faces from his Arizona Cardinal days. That continued on Saturday, when the Buccaneers announced that they’re bringing in veteran offensive lineman Earl Watford:

Watford, who played for the Cleveland Browns a year ago, got his start with Arians and the Cardinals as a fourth-round draft pick in 2014.

Watford gradually worked himself into their starting lineup and started at both guard and right tackle 11 times in 2016 and then varied between right guard and left guard with nine starts in 2017, which was Arians’ last year there.

The Bucs offensive line struggled at times last season and specifically at right guard, where young offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch was repeatedly beaten and targeted by other team’s defensive lines.

The Bucs already made a massive commitment to left tackle Donovan Smith to begin free agency and also picked up the final year option on right tackle Demar Dotson deal. Tampa Bay is the only team in the NFL with at least three offensive lineman making $10 million or more for 2019.

That includes Center Ryan Jensen, who they signed as a free agent last year from Baltimore, and also left guard Ali Marpet, who was given a new contract late in last season.

Back to Watford, the Chicago Bears initially signed him as a free agent before last season, but cut him at the end of training camp. The Browns picked Watford up and he was active for 13 games, but never started in any of them.

Tampa Bay also has last year’s 4th round pick Alex Kappa, who likely will compete for playing time as well at Right Guard. Bucs GM Jason Licht grabbed Kappa in the 2018 draft out of Division II Humboldt State in California doing so out of the same mold as getting Marpet in 2015 from Division III school, Hobart College.

Now, Kappa and Watford will battle for playing time with Benenoch likely moving to be a backup tackle.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs WR Mike Evans still not practicing

Florida Football Insiders



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs were back on the practice field Wednesday morning getting ready for their third preseason game on Friday night with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. However, once again, they are without their top receiver, Mike Evans, who remains sidelined with an injury.

Buccaneers beat reporter for The Athletic, Greg Auman, tweeted that Evans was not out on the practice field during the portion that is open to the media:

Evans pulled up during a drill in Sunday’s practice and head coach Bruce Arians made mention of the injury on Monday:

“Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious,” Arians told the media.

It is reportedly a leg injury to Evans’ quadriceps that is hampering him.

The Bucs are not required to talk about injuries, much less the severity of them, at this stage. And, it’s not believed that there will be any further updates on Evans this week.

However, it’s easy to conclude the Tampa Bay will not risk playing him in the third preseason game and is Auman tweeted, the starters never play in the fourth preseason game which will be next Thursday in Dallas.

So clearly, Tampa Bay is resting and rehabbing Evans for the season opener with the 49ers.

Evans, a Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago, is the top target of QB Jameis Winston. A year ago he caught for a career high 1,524 yards and also career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.

Evans had 86 receptions, which were the second most of his five year career, in 2018, and he’s one of three receivers in NFL history to have 1,000+ receiving yards in each of his first five seasons. Hall of Famer, Randy Moss and A.J. Green are the other two.

Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week. However, he’s been very durable since then, playing in 47 of the 48 games the last three years, having missed only a 2017 game while suspended for his role in a fight against the Saints.

This info comes on Evans’ birthday, as he turns just 26 today.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs RB Ronald Jones back at Tuesday practice

Florida Football Insiders



Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs fans can exhale on the knee injury for running back Ronald Jones, at least for now.

Jones was seen at the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday afternoon with his left knee heavily wrapped but, most importantly, participating in drills in full pads.

Tampa Bay radio host, J.P. Peterson, tweeted the video evidence here:

Jones had not practiced the last two days of Bucs training camp with what was described as a swollen knee suffered after playing in Friday night’s preseason game with the Dolphins.

As we wrote yesterday, coach Bruce Arians provided a brief update after practice into Jones’ situation,

“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him.”

Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time, where starters for the regular season play significantly. The Bucs are set to host the Cleveland Browns Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.

When asked about Jones’ chances to play or whether the team would play it safe, Arians briefly said:

“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok.”

Jones appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the 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:

Jones did carry the ball twice for 7 yards later 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. He missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.

However, he is expected to challenge incumbent starter from last year Peyton Barber for playing time/carries, once the regular season gets underway in two weeks.

Another obvious point, if his knee was sprained or worse, the Bucs would not have had on the field in full uniform trying to run and cut, even at a reduced speed. So, that’s also a positive.

For now, we await Arians’ and the teams plans for using Jones, or not, against the Browns later today and tomorrow.

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