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Dirk Koetter about to be back with Falcons at old job?

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Dec 30, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter looks on during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

And intriguing twist emerged on Monday afternoon involving fired Bucs coach Dirk Koetter and the NFC South rival. It looks like he may end up back where he came to Tampa Bay from, the Atlanta Falcons.

Falcons beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Orlando Ledbetter had the story late Monday afternoon:

This news comes on the heels of Falcons coach Dan Quinn firing his entire coordinating staff Monday morning. That included second-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

And with Koetter being dismissed Sunday night by the Buccaneers after three seasons as the head coach, it opens the door for him to return to Atlanta, where he had previously served as the offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Smith and worked with quarterback Matt Ryan. He was with the Falcons for three seasons, 2012 through 2014 calling plays.

He joined the Buccaneers, as offensive coordinator under Lovie Smith the following year, 2015, which was Jameis Winston rookie season with Tampa Bay.

Winston, the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season that first year. Then, when Lovie Smith was fired after the Bucs fell apart losing their last four games and finished 6 – 10, Koetter was elevated to head coach.

The AJC story also says that former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrel Bevell is under consideration in Atlanta. He has a previous relationship with Quinn, when they were both assistants in Seattle.

Koetter reportedly had one year remaining on his Tampa Bay coaching contract, and it would be an interesting twist, if he would elect to back to being a play-caller immediately after having been a head coach for the last three years.

Koetter was also previously the offensive coordinator for Jack Del Rio with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2007-11, where he coordinated highly successful offenses led by quarterback David Gerrard and running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Injury concerns for Bucs RB Jones and WR Evans

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The start of fourth week of training camp has a couple of concerns for Buccaneers offensive stars, receiver Mike Evans and running back, Ronald Jones.

Neither player participated in the Bucs latest workout Monday, and now there’s some doubt as to whether either will play in Friday night’s third preseason game with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium?

The Bucs are not required by the NFL to give any update on injuries at this point, unless they choose to, but head coach Bruce Arians provided a brief one after practice.

“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him. Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious.”

Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time where starters for the regular season play significantly.

When asked if both would be held out Friday night, Arians briefly said:

“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok. I’m not sure about Mike.”

First, on Evans, the Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago pulled up on a pass drill Sunday during practice and although the Bucs aren’t saying anything, there’s concern that he may have sustained a hamstring injury of some type. Tampa Bay is heavily counting on Evans to be their go-to weapon, especially on third down. A year ago he caught for 1,524 yards and a career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.

Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week.

As for Jones, he appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the Dolphins 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 leader 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. Jones missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.

Now, we wait to see how long he and Evans will be out.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Positive injury update news for Bucs DT Vita Vea

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs coach Bruce Arians gave another positive update Sunday on one of his star defensive players he’s counting on to come back from injury. It looks like hulking defensive tackle Vita Vea is still on track to potentially play in the season opener September 8th.

After the Buccaneers Sunday morning training camp workout, Arians was asked, if there was any new news on Via resting and rehabbing the sprained ligament in his left knee? He told the media:

“He’s getting better and better everyday. No pain (in the knee). So, I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’s gonna be ready (opening day),” Arians said plainly.

The former first-round pick a year ago out of the University of Washington was injured almost two weeks ago in a one-on-one pass blocking drill, crumbling to the ground with the Bucs and their fans holding their breath. However it turns out it was only a sprain ligament that did not require surgery and Vea could still possibly play at the beginning of the regular season, including the opener with the 49ers.

Vea was seen walking on the sideline Friday night during the Bucs preseason game with the Dolphins with the aid of a heavily braced left knee.

This is the second straight training camp that Vea has been sidelined with a significant injury. Last year, he suffered a torn calf muscle on the second day of workouts and missed all of the preseason and the first three games of the regular season recovering from the injury and getting into playing shape.

When he did comeback, Vea came on strong in the second half of the season and began to show signs of promise, as to why the Bucs had picked him in the top 15 of the draft. He had a career high nine tackles in a December game in Baltimore and was all over the line of scrimmage and the backfield causing disruptions.

Then, in Dallas the following week, he was once again making plays early in the game. Although, he had a first-half sack Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott nullified by a face mask penalty, he got another one that counted by blindsiding Prescott on the final play of the first half.

Vea finished with three tackles, the sack and one tackle for loss in that game.  And, in the second half of the season, he ended up with 28 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss in eight games.

Vea is being heavily counted on to help the interior of the Bucs defensive line in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3 – 4 defense. He along with new free agent pro bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh are going to be the guys relied upon to get pressure up the middle for the defense.

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