Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith will address the severity of injuries to free safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) and rookie wide receiver Mike Evans (groin) later this afternoon, but NFL.com’s Ian Rappaoport is reporting that Evans’ groin strain will keep him out 2-3 weeks.
Evans was having his best game as a pro in Sunday’s 27-24 win at Pittsburgh, catching four passes for 65 yards, including a career-long 40-yard catch, when he suffered a groin strain while tracking a deep pass from Mike Glennon that was picked off by Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen after Evans went down during his route. Evans also recorded his first NFL touchdown, a 7-yard scoring reception to help the Bucs build a 7-0 lead against Pittsburgh in the first quarter.
Veteran Louis Murphy stepped in for the injured Evans in the second half and recorded six catches for 99 yards, including a 41-yard reception down to the Steelers 5-yard line that set up Vincent Jackson’s game-winning 5-yard touchdown. Murphy will likely get the start in place of Evans on Sunday in New Orleans.
Evans, the team’s first-round draft pick in April, is Tampa Bay’s leading receiver with 17 catches for 203 yards and a touchdown in his first four games.
The 1-3 Buccaneers will travel to New Orleans on Sunday to face the 1-3 Saints, a team that is “not a very good football team.” At least that’s what the Saints are saying.
“We have to be realistic right now with ourselves. Right now, we’re not a very good football team,” Saints left tackle Zach Strief told ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett after the team’s 38-17 loss at Dallas. “You’re glad it’s the fourth game of the year, and it’s not just decided – it’s the 15th (game), and you were a bad team. But, right now, we’re a bad team.”
Well, the Saints aren’t all bad. The Drew Brees-led offense ranks third in the NFL in yards per game with 425.8, and is 10th in points scored with 23.8 per game. But it’s Rob Ryan’s defense, which ranked in the top 5 a year ago, that has fallen off in 2014. While Tampa Bay has the league’s 31st-ranked scoring defense, allowing 29.8 points per game, New Orleans ranks 28th, and is surrendering 27.5 points per game and 396 yards per game, which ranks also ranks 28th in the NFL.
With the Bucs offense showing some improvement behind Mike Glennon’s 302-yard, two-touchdown performance in Sunday’s win at Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay’s passing game could continue to click in the Bayou as the Saints are surrendering 278.5 yards through the air, which is tied with Tampa Bay for 28th in the NFL.
Not only did a come-from-behind, 27-24 win in Pittsburgh produce the first victory of 2014 – and of the Lovie Smith era – for Tampa Bay, it also allowed the Bucs to stay in contention to win the NFC South division.
The Bucs can still win the division – thanks to Sunday losses by Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans, coupled with a Tampa Bay victory at Heinz Field.
The Bucs are still last in the NFC South with a 1-3 record, but they have some company as the Saints, whom Tampa Bay faces in New Orleans on Sunday, also fell to 1-3 last night with a brutal 38-17 loss at Dallas. Carolina, which started off the season 2-0, has lost its last two games and is now 2-2 on the season after a 38-10 thrashing at Baltimore. Atlanta is with Carolina with a 2-2 mark thanks to a 41-28 loss at Minnesota on Sunday, but they are 2-1 and a half game back in the division.
What hurts Tampa Bay is its 0-2 start in the division and its 0-3 record in the NFC. Carolina is still in the driver’s seat atop the division with a 2-0 mark in the NFC South. However, a win on Sunday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome over New Orleans would move the Bucs into third place ahead of the Saints with 11 games left in the 2014 campaign.
With starting quarterback Josh McCown unable to play this week due to a sprained thumb that he suffered in last Thursday’s 56-14 loss at Atlanta, the Buccaneers promoted QB Mike Kafka from the practice squad to the active roster to back up Mike Glennon, who will start this week at Pittsburgh.
To make room for Kafka on the 53-man roster, Tampa Bay released guard Rishaw Johnson, whom it acquired in a preseason trade with Kansas City for safety Kelcie McCray.
The Buccaneers offense may be getting a boost on Sunday with the return of rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has missed the last two games with a severely sprained ankle. The team’s second round pick in 2014 practiced today for the first time since injuring the ankle in Tampa Bay’s 20-14 season-opening loss to Carolina and is preparing to play at Pittsburgh.
“I’m going to do some practicing today,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “We’ll see how it goes. Everyone has been working really hard. It’s unfortunate that we’ve had this start, but we’re one game away from getting on a roll. That’s what everyone needs to remember. It doesn’t happen overnight, but all it takes is one game to get on a roll. Everyone is in here working hard, coaches and players included. It’s going to come around. It’s just a matter of time.”
The Bucs’ 30th-ranked offense could use Seferian-Jenkins, who caught a 26-yard pass in the first quarter against the Panthers before running back Doug Martin crashed into him and rolled up on his ankle.
“It sucks being hurt,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I didn’t miss a game due to injury, but I got hurt coming out of college going to the draft. That happens and it’s part of football. You get injured but it’s how you come back from it. I’ll be ready when I get a chance to come back. I’m excited.
“I’m real eager to go out there and make a difference. I came here to make a difference. That’s what I want to do. As soon as I get out there I’m going to make a difference.”
After rushing for 144 yards on 22 carries in a 19-17 loss to St. Louis, Bobby Rainey, a native of Griffin, Ga., was looking forward to returning home to face the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. But a night in which he totaled over 100 yards (41 rushing, a career-high 64 receiving) turned out to be disastrous for the Buccaneers, who lost 56-14 to the Falcons, and to Rainey, who fumbled the ball twice.
“The turnovers are something I can’t do – period,” Rainey said. “I have to take care of the ball. I will do that starting today and from here on out. I will take care of the ball. The team doesn’t have to worry about me losing the ball again. What I get paid to do is protect the ball. That’s what I’ll do – protect the ball.
“I had to basically block it out. I had a lot of the veterans come to me and say don’t worry about it, but I put a standard on myself that’s way more than what anyone could put on me. I had to move forward and contribute the way I could.”
Rainey said that Tim Spencer, the team’s running backs coach, was not pleased with Rainey’s two turnovers, which helped the Bucs dig a hole for themselves.
“He was pissed like always,” Rainey said. “Anytime one of us put the ball on the ground he’s pissed – period. We’re running backs and we have to protect the ball. We’re one of the guys that touches the ball the most. He was upset, but he still had the confidence to put me out there. I don’t know if it was because I was the only back that we had, but he showed confidence in me.”
That, and the fact that backup running back Mike James only has 11 yards in 10 carries and is averaging just over 1.0 yard per carry.
Given the fact that Rainey has three turnovers in three games, including a fumble in the 20-14 loss to Carolina in Week 1, it’s likely a given that Doug Martin will return to the starting lineup when his knee heels, which could be this Sunday at Pittsburgh.
While Martin has yet to turn the ball over this year, he only has nine yards on nine carries, while Rainey leads the team in rushing with 197 yards on 37 carries (5.3 avg.) and has 12 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown
With Tampa Bay’s offense ranked 30th in the NFL after three weeks, averaging just 271 yards per game and with only 38 points scored in 2014, to say that the team needs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford back calling plays would be an understatement. Tedford had two stents put in his heart following the Bucs’ preseason game in Buffalo last month and missed the preseason finale against Washington and the first three games of the 2014 season.
Bucs quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo has been calling plays in Tedford’s absence, and following Tampa Bay’s 56-14 loss at Atlanta on Thursday, right tackle Demar Dotson said the team needs its O.C. back as soon as possible.
“I don’t know how it has affected us, but I know it hurts,” Dotson said. “Jeff is a real good playcaller and this team needs him. But this team also wants him to do what he has to do to get himself better. When he’s able, we’ll welcome him back. Do we need him? We definitely need him.”
The Buccaneers defense is a hot mess for fantasy football players with several injuries affecting the defensive line. Starting left defensive end Adrian Clayborn is out for the season with a biceps injury and starting right end Michael Johnson missed the entire week of practice with a sprained ankle.
With the Bucs having to pick to ends to start out of the group of unheralded players like Will Gholston, Scott Solomon and Larry English, it might be best to stay away from Tampa Bay’s defense, which also lost veteran cornerback Mike Jenkins to a season-ending pectoral injury this week, even though the Bucs are facing a backup quarterback in St. Louis.
Offensively, left guard Logan Mankins practiced on his injured leg and is expected to play against St. Louis. Running back Doug Martin sustained a knee injury against Carolina, but returned to action and was limited earlier in the week in practice. He’ll play on Sunday, but how effective will he be? He may not be worth starting this week due to St. Louis’ stout defense. Backup running back Bobby Rainey, who had a touchdown catch last week, might be a more sound fantasy option.
Bucs rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins hasn’t practiced all week due to a sprained ankle and likely won’t play. Tight end Brandon Myers was the Bucs’ leading receiver last week with six catches for 41 yards and might be a better fantasy pick up, especially if Tampa Bay’s offensive line has a hard time handling St. Louis’ front four. Quarterback Josh McCown might be forced to get rid of the ball quickly.
McCown, who threw two touchdowns and two interceptions last week, and wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who had four receptions for 36 yards against the Panthers. Need to step up this week and have better performances. Both are worth starting, in addition to rookie wide receiver Mike Evans.
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The Buccaneers defensive line got a needed boost on Wednesday as reserve defensive end William Gholston (shoulder) and backup three-technique tackle Da’Quan Bowers (groin) returned to practice, but left guard Logan Mankins and running back Doug Martin sat out with leg injuries, and rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and defensive end Michael Johnson were out with an ankle injury. Mankins, Martin, Seferian-Jenkins and Johnson all suffered their injuries in Tampa Bay’s 20-14 season opening loss to Carolina.
Seferian-Jenkins and running back Charles Sims were seen wearing walking boots today in the Bucs locker room. Sims had ankle surgery during the preseason and is on injured reserve with a designation to return.
Also returning to practice was reserve safety Bradley McDougald, who was injured in the preseason, while reserve cornerback Rashaan Melvin is still out with an ankle injury.
The Bucs and Rams will release injury reports later today. Stay tuned to PewterReport.com for details.
Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy addressed the fans’ disappointment of Tampa Bay losing its 2014 season opener at home to Carolina, 20-14, on Sunday. McCoy had eight solo tackles, two tackles for loss and a fourth quarter sack in his 2014 debut.
“Nobody is sitting here crying about the Patriots,” McCoy said. “They lost, too. And so did the Green Bay Packers. And so did the New Orleans Saints. Teams have to lose on Week 1. You can’t have two winners in every game. We lost Week 1. We apologize and we’ll fix it.
“You always want to go undefeated at home. Much credit goes to our fans. They didn’t give up on us and stayed loud throughout the whole game. One thing I will ask of our fans – and fans don’t crucify me for this – just hang in there. I know our fans have been patient. They just want to see a winner. We understand that. Just hang in there. We can’t do it without them. We need our fans to keep showing up and keep supporting us. It’s okay to be upset when we lose because we were upset, too. We’re not faulting them. But keep hanging in there with us.”
McCoy said he appreciated the help that the team’s 53,000 fans in attendance provided on Sunday, especially in the fourth quarter as Tampa Bay rallied back with two touchdowns to pull within three points at 17-14.
“I give our fans all the credit,” McCoy said. “They stayed with us and rooted us on all the way through. I just ask that they keep sticking with us. We’re not going to stop fighting, so we don’t need them to stop fighting. They need our fans.”
The Buccaneers get a chance to make amends for last week’s loss with another home game, this time against St. Louis, which lost at home to Minnesota, 34-6, on Sunday. When asked if the Rams game was a must-win in Week 2, McCoy scoffed at the notion.
“Every week is a must-win,” McCoy said. “We’re trying to get into the playoffs. You have to win to get in the playoffs. We get paid to win games. Every game is a must-win for us. It’s a crazy big game because it’s the next one. It’s Week 1 people. I understand we only won four games last year. I understand that our fans are tired of us losing. But if the fans are tired of us losing, think about how we feel.
“We’re the ones out their grinding in the offseason and training camp and then to come out in Week 1 and not win? It sucks. I guarantee you that the fans don’t feel as bad as we do. We ask that our fans stick in there with us and I guarantee you that we’re going to keep fighting. It’s Week 1. I guarantee you we’ll have 15 more [games]. The team we just lost to started off terrible last year and then won 10 straight. It happens. It’s a long season.”