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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC South QBs stand out

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Dec 23, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to throw from the pocket in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We have reached the summer months and now a lot of the actual views will begin to dry up for a little while with NFL teams and players. So it’s always great for debate when writers, TV Talking Heads, radio hosts and others stir up lists or rankings for debates. And CBSsports.com did that this weekend regarding each NFL division being ranked according to how good it’s four quarterbacks combined are?

NFL writer Sean Wagner-McGough put out the list and not surprisingly, his ranking of the best division from top to bottom is the NFC South.

First, as Wagner-McGough laid out in his criteria, he’s basing the stats only on last year, as well as. an overall snapshot of how good they have been in their career and he is also making a projection for 2019.

He does point out that it is not solely based on numbers and a lot of it is based on his opinion based off of what he’s seen in the results besides just the stats.

With that in mind he went in descending order with the AFC East (despite Tom Brady) ends up being the worst. A big part of that includes the Dolphins uncertainty as to whether veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick or second newly acquired QB Josh Rosen will be at the helm?

Likewise, in the AFC South the Jaguars have uncertainty with Nick Foles coming in at quarterback and Wagner McGough has the South as his fifth best projected division.

As for the NFC South, with Drew Brees having won a Super Bowl and both Matt Ryan and Cam Newton having quarterbacked in one, it’s easy to always go to them as the top division for QBs.

Here was CBS sports.com rationale for picking the South as a top division:

Drew Brees is a top-five quarterback right now and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Matt Ryan is still underappreciated. It kinda flew under the radar that he threw for 4,924 yards, 35 touchdowns, and seven interceptions last season. When healthy, Cam Newton is a top-10 quarterback and his stats from last season were significantly dampened by his shoulder injury, which prevented him from driving the ball downfield as the season wore on.

Jameis Winston is the worst quarterback of the group, but there’s a chance he could form a lethal combination with Bruce Arians and his deep-passing game. He’s likely to remain a flawed quarterback, but he’s the kind of flawed quarterback who can still post big numbers.

The NFC South is the only division with three legitimately great quarterbacks. That’s why the throne is theirs.

The Bucs are the only one of the four that have a new coaching staff and clearly, Arians has a chance to turn around Winston and the Bucs fortunes.

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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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