December 6, 2023

Bucs Life

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Injury will provide opportunity to impress

5 min read

Cleveland comes to town in what is supposed to be a dress rehearsal of some sorts for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting offense, however that may not be the case after all.

How much the starters play will be solely dependant on how well they do on each series, which I believe will only be one full quarter. Arians did say that typically he likes to play a full half with his starters, but this is a new team and Arians has changed many of his ways of doing things. The starting offensive line had requested to play a full half this Friday, But Arians didn’t think they needed to.

Arians wants his team to remain healthy, so to avoid risking injury in what is considered to be a meaningless game, Arians may just limit his guys. Again it will be dependant how they play.

“It’s odd because I went to the offensive line and I said ‘How much do we need to play?’ They said ‘We need a half.’ I said, ‘I don’t think you do. We’ll see about that.’ But, they wanted to play a half to get into a little bit more rhythm. It’s a catch-22. It always has been and always will be. It’s just like going out and tackling in practice – you’ve got to do it, and you’ve just got to hold your breath that nobody gets hurt.”

Who will play and who will not:

You are not going to see the obvious players, Vita Vea, Justin Evans, and Jason Pierre-Paul, who have all been suffering from injury and are currently recovering the best that they can, but added to that list is wide receiver Mike Evans, who is suffering from a leg injury sustained in last Sunday’s practice. Mike Evans left the field after catching a deep ball and left the field holding his left quad, which would indicate to me a hamstring. Evans has had issues with them in the past, but has always recovered quickly.

When it comes to the guys who are injured and close to returning to play, that will have to be a game-time decision. Added to that is running back Ronald Jones who suffered a knee injury last week against the Dolphins -yet he continued to play- has some knee swelling, but coach stated that “if he plays he will be fine.” Rojo may be held out to avoid further injury.

“Other than the guys who have been out, everybody else will be a game-time decision. Lavonte, Vita – those guys who have been out – will not play in this ball game. Mike Evans will not play in this ball game. The rest of them will be game-time decisions. Like I said yesterday, how much they play will be determined on how we’re playing, and we’ll make those decisions as the game goes on. Like I said earlier, it’s a really good challenge for us. It’s a heck of a good football team coming in, and it will be a nice measuring stick.”

Update on Justin Evans:  Although he’s back on the practice field, running and doing some limited drills by himself, he is not allowed to participate with the team during drills.

“He’s not allowed to. He’s still on Active/Physically Unable to Perform.”

Arians will look for consistency and elimination of penalties on the kicking game, during this game and he better get it. Players’ jobs are on the line.

“Consistency and solid play, elimination of penalties on the kicking game, and just looking sharp against a good, solid opponent.”

When it comes to the kicking competition, it’s a neck and neck race. Cairo Santos will be afforded the first long field goal attempt, but Matt Gay will get his kicks in as well.

“Cairo will get the first long one this week and see how that works out. It’s going to go down to the wire.”

Coach will expect a better outing from the offensive line than they produced last Friday against the Dolphins. The tackle positions were very suspect, and Donovan Smith struggled big time.

“Just continue to get consistent. Gain four or more yards, run the ball as well as we have been – and maybe better – against a good, solid front, and protect the quarterback.”

Bruce Arians will have his eye on the entire team, not just specific units, so guys have to step it up. Roster slim down is upon us, and many will begin to receive their walking papers starting as early as this weekend – This game is important for a lot of the team’s hopefuls.

“No, just all of them. Especially in the second half, there’s a lot of jobs up for stake, and I’ll see how they play.”

Arians believes that this Browns’ team will be a real test for his Buccaneers and that the hype surrounding the Browns is totally justified.

“I think it’s totally justified, yeah, because of what they did in the offseason. They’ve got a great young quarterback. I think he’s one of the best young guys to come in the league in a while. He brings a lot of confidence and a lot of energy to that team. You can just see them – I broadcasted them in the first game, then I did them later in the season – it was a totally different ball club, and it fed off to their defense. They’ve got some really good young players on defense, too. That’s a heck of a group of guys – you add the guys they added in the offseason and yeah, I think they’re a contender right off the bat.”

The Buccaneers offensive line is in for a huge test from the Browns defense, and the secondary will face an offense fully capable of producing big yards in a hurry. At least Odell Beckham Jr. has been limited in practice due to injury and isn’t likely to play, and that would be a relief as the starting secondary wouldn’t have to deal with the veteran receiver.

No Mike Evans and most likely no Odell Beckham Jr., but this game is still capable of being a high flying, fun to watch contest; At least, for most fans, the first string series. I, on the other hand, will be paying close attention to all of the players so I can start guessing who will not be on the team when we face the Cowboys next week.

I can’t wait for kick-off.