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Three things to watch as Bucs host Lions Friday night

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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the third week of preseason and the Bucs are finally at home, taking on the Lions Friday night. Tampa Bay has scored a lot of points, 56 in their two preseason wins, and looks to build on that and more.

Here are three things to watch:

Bucs Concerned at Left Tackle

With Donovan Smith suffering a knee injury earlier this week in training camp, he’s out tonight, but it’s believed that will be back for the start of the regular season. Still, who protects the blindside for QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston and solidifies themselves, as depth at that position?

Michael Liedtke took some reps at first team LT later in Tuesday and Wednesday practices, but Tampa Bay also wants to use Leonard Wester, who’s been with the Bucs the last couple of years, too. However, Wester has been hurt.

Veteran RT Demar Dotson, who’s returning from off season knee surgery, saw limited action in his preseason debut last Saturday night against the Titans. He has played some left tackle in his career before. Also, reserve Caleb Benenoch has also played some left tackle in college, etc.

We will have to wait to see what the Bucs choose to do, with starters expected to play all of the first half in this game.

Lions look for explosive plays

Detroit has a new coaching staff under former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patrica, but they have a familiar face in Matthew Stafford (above) at QB. The former Pro Bowler still has one of the strongest arms in the NFL, and he’s got some speedy targets like Golden Tate and Marvin Jones to use to loosen any defense.

And, while the Lions have slashing veteran runners Ameer Abdullah, and Theo Riddick, they have drafted another one of those types in Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson, too. Also, to pound the defense in short yardage and in “goal to go” situations, Detroit signed veteran LeGarrette Blount. Blount, who began his career in Tampa Bay, has Superbowl rings from New England and last year in Philly.

It will be a challenge for the Buccaneers linebackers and secondary on Friday night.

Young Bucs receivers battle

As we wrote earlier in the week, Tampa Bay has great young depth at wide receiver. However, you cannot keep them all on the active roster.

Penn rookie Justin Watson made a huge impact, especially in the first half last week with 54 yards receiving and a leaping toe tap touchdown against the Titans.

Second year player Sergio Bailey has also impressed, including his second half touchdown catch last week.

Veteran Bernard Reedy is someone who the Bucs have used in the regular season and is a good kick returner.

Again, veterans like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, and Chris Godwin will see most of the playing time with the starting unit Friday night. However, let’s see if one or more of those names above sneak in with the first unit for some snaps.

Watson did a week ago. Reedy has in the past.

It’s quite a battle for the last roster spot or two at wideout in Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.

Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?

Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.

Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,

Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:

“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”

“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option? 

The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.

After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”

While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.

Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.

The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.

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Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?

First, the team released another video with clues about them intending to change their uniform and potentially alter their logo:

The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:

“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”

As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.

This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,

The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.

NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.

It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.

The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.

Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.

So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.

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