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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs veteran DB Ryan Smith suspended first four games by NFL

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
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The competition for playing time in the Buccaneers secondary took an interesting turn Wednesday afternoon, when the team announced that one of their veterans will be suspended for the first four games of the season by the NFL.

The team made the announcement that fourth year corner Ryan Smith, has been suspended for use of PEDs and will not be eligible to play in the regular season until October:

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht, who drafted Smith three years ago, had these comments,

“We are disappointed that Ryan will be unavailable for the first four games of the season. We do extensive training and education for our players regarding the league’s polices, but ultimately each individual is responsible for what they put in their bodies.”

Smith has battled for playing time over the course of the last couple of seasons and started six times, while being active for all 16 games a year ago. He had 10 starts in the 2017 season. He has 99 career tackles and 11 career passes defended with one interception.

The former fourth-round pick out of North Carolina Central was definitely going to be battling for playing time among highly drafted players. That includes 2016 first round pick Vernon Hargreaves, who missed all but one game last season due to shoulder surgery.

The Bucs picked up the fifth year contract option this off season for Hargreaves and 2020. However, it is something that they could later rescind, if Hargreaves, who’s made little to no impact in three seasons, has another bad/injured year.

Licht continued to stock-pile new defensive backs with premium draft picks in 2018 by using second-round picks on M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis. And, this past April with new coach Bruce Arians and new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay took Central Michigan DB Sean Bunting in round two, and again, followed it up with Davis’ Auburn teammate, Jamel Dean in round three.

Smith was obviously going to have a real battle for playing time vs. all of those young defensive backs. He will be eligible to practice and play preseason games with the team, but now will be considered a long shot to make the final roster.

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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