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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs rookie kicker Gay shows confidence

Russ Isabella- USA Today Sports
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As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ready for training camp and try to turn their losing trend around, a position that will be carefully scrutinized will be placekicker. And the Bucs rookie 5th round draft pick, Matt Gay, is already expressing confidence then that he will not only win the job, but will become one of the most memorable ones in franchise history.

Gay was featured in a social media video that the Buccaneers released on Monday afternoon:

In the video Gay revealed something interesting, in that, no one in his family had ever played football before he began to kick at the University of Utah just two years ago.

But, most interesting were his thoughts on dealing with the pressure that is about to be on him. Specifically, with Gay having to deal with comparisons to the recent past failure of second round pick Roberto Aguayo,

“When I got drafted, the feeling was mixed with fans. Half of them were like: ‘Okay. We’re going after it. We’re trying to fix the situation. We’re trying to get a guy.’ Then, I think the other half remembered the past… ‘What are we doing? We’re not doing this again.’ Gay continued with, “I want to be the best kicker you guys have ever had. I want to be the best kicker in the NFL. I want to achieve a lot of great things.”

The Bucs drafted Gay in the fifth round back in April, as he was one of the most decorated kickers the last couple of seasons in college football. That included, making 56 field goals with an 87% conversion rate during his two-year career in Salt Lake Citty for the Utes. Gay’s best season was 2017, where he won the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top place-kicker making 30 of 34 field goals and 40 of 40 extra points. Gay was also named consensus first team All-American that year.

Last season, Gay converted 26 of 31 field goals and was a third-team All-American and a semi-finalist for the Groza award. He also holds the Utah record with eight career field goals of 50 yards or longer.

There is another variable for the Tampa Bay kicking job in that veteran Cairo Santos kick solidly, after being picked up off waivers at the end of last season. Santos was brought on board after the Bucs signed Chandler Catanzaro to a guaranteed $3 million contract for last year, but still ended up cutting him after he erratically continue to miss extra points and field goals.

Further, the Bucs have a new special teams coach on Bruce Arian’s staff. And, that is long time assistant with the Falcons, Keith Armstrong who will obviously have lots of input on the Tampa Bay kicking battle.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs pass rusher Barrett named NFC Defensive Player of Week

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians rightfully fearing Giants RB Saquon Barkley

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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:

“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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