The Buccaneers wasted no time on Wednesday introducing newly re-signed left tackle Donovan Smith to the Tampa Bay media. And as you can imagine, Smith was all smiles with his new three-year 41 million-dollar contract.
The former second-round pick from Penn State sat with GM Jason Licht, who got the deal done by Tuesday afternoon’s deadline to keep Smith from being placed under the Franchise Tag for the 2019 season.
First, Licht spoke glowingly about Smith saying “his combination of athleticism and strength and more importantly knowledge and a desire to play every week,” were key factors in bringing him back aboard at the very important left tackle position.
The deal includes $27 million guaranteed, but apparently, all of that is in the first two years of the contract. This translates that Smith got a lot of money upfront for Tampa Bay getting the trade-off that there’s no real obligation for them to Smith after 2020, if he doesn’t play well.
For his part, Smith made clear that the comfort of playing in Tampa Bay, including with his best friend on the team, offensive line, Ali Marpet made the new deal even sweeter. Smith and Marpet, who were drafted together in the second round in 2015, have hosted weekly radio and television shows in the Tampa Bay market over the last couple of years.
And Wednesday night, they were together celebrating at the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game, where the Lightning have the best record in the NHL:
— Donovan Smith (@DSmith_76) March 6, 2019
Smith told the media that he could not imagine playing for anyone else, and the Buccaneers ensured that by getting this deal done for the new coaching staff led by Bruce Arians.
There was a bit of hilarious “social media back and forth.” after Smith’s deal was announced Tuesday.
That’s when Saints Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan took a dig at Smith’s pass blocking, while simultaneously encouraging teammate Alex Okafor to re-sign with New Orleans, because “food solifiied” for the two of them going against Smith twice more, next season:
— cameron jordan (@camjordan94) March 5, 2019
Of course, Smith took his turn and responded with only emojis and a photo :
— Donovan Smith (@DSmith_76) March 5, 2019
And it should be pointed, that despite their short comings in the win-loss column in 2018, the Bucs offense with Ryan Fitzpatick at the helm torched Jordan, Okafor and the Saints in week one last year.
To the tune of: 48 points scored (a Bucs record in an opener) Fitzpatrick with 400+ yards and being named NFC Offensive Player of the week.
Brees out with thumb injury for Bucs and Jaguars games
The expected bad news on Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ injured thumb has come on Monday. And, it means the New Orleans quarterback will miss upcoming October games with the Bucs and the Jaguars.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday morning that Brees will be sidelined up to 6 weeks with the injured ligament in the thumb on his throwing hand:
Saints' QB Drew Brees is expected to undergo thumb surgery as early as today that would be expected to sideline him approximately 6 weeks, per leagues sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 16, 2019
Brees was injured in the second quarter of Sunday’s 30 – 9 loss to the L.A. Rams at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. He was shown on the sideline with his thumb in a splint (above), as the game worn on and did not return to action.
Brees, who will be a certain first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and who led the Saints to their only Super Bowl appearance/win in franchise history in 2009, has been one of the 2-3 top quarterbacks in the NFL for over a decade. Brees, in his 19th season, currently has the NFL’s all time record for completions and passing yards that he accomplished a year ago. He has a staggering 115 games with 300 or more passing yards and another remarkable 12 straight seasons with 4,000 passing yards that is now in jeopardy with the injured thumb.
The Saints will now turn to veteran back up Teddy Bridgewater who filled in Sunday but did not have much success against the stout Rams defense in the loss. Bridgewater, the former Vikings QB, was 17-30 for 165 yards, as New Orleans never found the endzone in the game.
The Sains also have young third QB Taysom Hill, and he’s also been used as a receiver and a special teams ace by New Orleans.
The Bucs, who were winners Thursday night at Carolina, will travel to play the Saints at the Superdome on October 6th in the first of their two NFC South meetings. The following week, New Orleans will be at TIAA Bank Field to take on the Jaguars in their first appearance in North Florida in eight years.
Bucs defense dramatic stand saved night in Charlotte
So much has been made of first-year Bucs coach Bruce Arians’ offensive mindset, starting quarterback Jameis Winston’s arm talent and the weapons around them carrying the team, but Thursday night it was the Buccaneers defense that showed up big, as in the end, with the game on the line in the final two minutes, they save the day with a fourth-down heroic play.
Former first-round pick , DB Vernon Hargreaves, came up with a key one-on-one tackle on Carolina star RB Christian McCaffrey (above) on fourth down at the Tampa Bay one-yard line to keep the Panthers from getting a first down. And, it gave the Bucs the ball back to run out the clock and secure a much needed 20 – 14 win.
Hargreaves’ individual effort epitomized the Buccaneers solid defensive play all night in Charlotte, as they did not allow Carolina to score a touchdown and held them to only three points on offense the entire second half. .
As for the aforementioned Winston and his support on the other side of the ball, they supplied enough, including Peyton Barber running tough for 82 yards on 23 carries and a crucial third-quarter 16 yard touchdown run the gave Tampa Bay the lead for good at 17 – 12.
Winston finished 16-25 for 208 yards, including a first-half touchdown pass to third year receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin is quickly becoming Winston’s new favorite target, as he hauled in eight catches for 121 yards and the score.
Meanwhile, Panthers Pro Bowl quarterback Cam Newton had an off game, as well. Even though he threw for 300 yards, he still had 26 incompletions on 50 attempts and Carolina repeatedly had one drive after another fizzle out in Bucs territory.
Newton was also battered by Tampa Bay’s rush, as new DE Shaq Barrett had three sacks, and the Bucs front seven repeatedly hit and knocked him down. Another key moment came near midfield in the third, when Newton was stripped of the ball for a lost fumble. And, another new Buc, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, fell on it.
And, to top it all off, McCaffery could mount very little offense Thursday night, either. A week after amassing over 200 yards from scrimmage against the Rams, he was held to 16 carries for only 37 yards and just two catches for just more 16 yards.
As for the key stop of McCaffery to preserve victory, Hargreaves said after the game late Thursday,
“It looked like it was going to be the Philly special from the Super Bowl. A reverse pass. When Cam walked up to the line of scrimmage, that’s what I thought it was going to be. As the play developed, McCaffrey faked it and he came right to me. I just stayed at home and he came right to me. I just had to make the play.”
A play that has Tampa Bay sitting 1-1 after a tough divisional win.
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