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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DeSean Jackson believes Buccaneers will “light it up” this year

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire
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TAMPA – On Friday it was kicker Roberto Aguayo and quarterback Jameis Winston who had their best days yet at Buccaneers training camp. On Saturday it was wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

In front of a massive crowd of fans that spilled out of the stands, filled up the backside of two fields and ran halfway down another, Jackson showed off the speed and skill that makes him so special.

Jackson was literally un-coverable on Saturday, catching two touchdown passes in an 11-on-11 red zone drill and then beating the secondary on a go route in which Winston dropped another deep ball into the bucket.

“DeSean had a great day,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “He got off to a fast start and one of his best plays, I don’t know if the fans were able to see because it was over on that (middle) field.

“In the last period there, he caught a quick out (along the sideline) and broke the tackle and then he was gone. So yeah, a big day for DeSean. It was good to see.’’

The outing will lend more credence to the growing belief the Bucs could have one of the most potent offenses in the league this year. That’s ab belief that Jackson shares.

Citing the explosiveness that he brings and the talent of several of the players around him, Jackson didn’t argue with a suggestion the Bucs could average close to 30 points per game this year.

“I don’t see why not,’’ Jackson said. “We have the playmakers and the skill. But we don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves. We just want to go out there and have fun.’’

Jackson provided the massive crowd with a lot of fun moments on Saturday, but it may be the start of the regular season before he provides those kinds of thrills again.

The Bucs will begin their preseason schedule next week and while Jackson is likely to get some limited work in those games, he doesn’t plan to show off all his skills until the games matter.

“I’m going to try to keep my plays for the regular season, when it counts,’’ Jackson said. “Obviously the preseason is something we have to go through and it will be good for us.

“I’m sure I’ll get some reps, get some plays there, but I don’t want to show too much just yet because we’re expecting to have a big year this year. We think we can come out and light it up.’’

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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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