The Bucs are in a foul spot by means of eight video games. They’re 3-5, having misplaced three straight video games and 5 of their final six. After Thursday night time’s 27-22 loss to the Ravens, the workforce has one thing of a mini bye week, as 9 days may have handed by the point Tampa Bay returns to Raymond James Stadium on Nov. 6 to host the Rams.
There could also be loads of modifications that the Bucs ought to make earlier than the defending Tremendous Bowl champions come to city. However what would additionally assist is that if Todd Bowles’ protection will get a few of its key contributors again. Carlton Davis (hip) has been lacking for the final two video games. Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad), a key reserve cornerback, has missed an prolonged period of time.
Akiem Hicks (foot) hasn’t performed since Week 2. And Antoine Winfield Jr., who has been the protection’s greatest participant this season, missed Week 8 with a concussion.
So, may the Bucs get any of those guys again in time for his or her matchup with the Rams? Bowles was requested about it throughout his Friday afternoon press convention and whereas it’s a wait-and-see state of affairs, he talked about that three guys are “shut.”
“Hopefully,” Bowles stated. “We’ll see in observe subsequent week. Sean, Carlton and Hicks are shut, however we’ll see how shut.”
Getting Davis, their No. 1 nook, again within the lineup can be massive for the Bucs. He and Jamel Dean kind a formidable 1-2 for Tampa Bay’s protection, whereas Murphy-Bunting is a crucial presence as an skilled depth piece. With each Davis and Murphy-Bunting again, the secondary must rely much less on reserves like Dee Delaney and rookie Zyon McCollum.
A return for Hicks might be a lift for the Bucs as effectively. He was introduced in largely for his cross dashing prowess, which is one thing the Bucs might want to get from elsewhere now that Shaquil Barrett (Achilles) will miss the remainder of the season. Maybe Hicks can assist the much-maligned run protection as effectively. It might imply much less reliance on Rakeem Nunez-Roches and rookie Logan Corridor, who’re in all probability higher served to play as rotational guys proper now.
The wild card right here is Winfield. In quite a lot of methods, he’s the important thing to the Bucs’ protection. Whether or not he’s at security or enjoying within the slot in nickel protection, the third-year defensive again has been up there with Dean because the workforce’s greatest and most constant gamers this season. Winfield suffered a concussion within the Bucs’ Week 7 loss to Carolina, so a return to the lineup in opposition to Baltimore in Week 8 on a brief week was by no means on the desk.
However with the mini bye and a few prolonged day without work, maybe he may discover himself in play to return in opposition to Los Angeles subsequent Sunday. After all, it relies upon the place in concussion protocol he’s. That, together with the statuses of every of the opposite injured defenders, shall be price monitoring when Tampa Bay returns to observe this week.