Bucs CB Jude Adjei-Barimah - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The game of musical chairs in the Buccaneers secondary continued Sunday.
Making his first career start in place of Johnthan Banks during the 32-18 loss to the Giants, was undrafted rookie Jude Adjei-Barimah, who recorded six tackles in a game where he was often tasked with guarding Odell Beckham Jr. or Rueben Randle.
The decision at cornerback, which was speculated to be made Sunday morning, left many confused about Banks’s situation and whether it was discipline-related to keep on the sideline.
While head coach Lovie Smith made it clear that he would never discuss a player’s personal situation with the public if, indeed, it was discipline related, he insisted that the move Sunday was simply about testing a different combination in the secondary.
“If there is something that’s going on, discipline related, we would keep that in-house,” Smith said. “But that had nothing to do with him and who played on the football field yesterday. That was a coach’s decision based on me wanting to look at those guys [Moore and Adjei-Barimah]… You asked about Johnthan Banks – Mike Jenkins didn’t start yesterday, either.
“Jude [Adjei-Barimah] and Sterling [Moore] both started the game yesterday. I feel like they both played well. We have looked for different combinations back there. I like some of the things both of those guys did yesterday.”
It’s understandable that Smith liked some of what he saw from the new combination. Tampa Bay recorded its first two interceptions by cornerbacks this season when Sterling Moore picked off the game’s first pass and Alterraun Verner added another in the third quarter. But did that have anything to do with Adjei-Barimah being on the field – or Banks being off?
Smith wasn’t going to put sole blame on Banks for the secondary’s past struggles, but said that every personnel move has to do with on-field play and Sunday’s shift was about giving another guy an opportunity.
“Everybody that is on the field is based on how they played in previous weeks and me not feeling good about how we’re playing and giving an opportunity to everybody back there that hasn’t gotten a chance,” Smith said. “I like what we saw yesterday.”
Later in the day Adjei-Barimah spoke about the unlikely journey of being an undrafted rookie and now getting a chance to start eight games into the season. The 23-year old, Italian-born player credited his coaches and veteran teammates for “a smooth transition” onto the field and into a starting role. Six games into his career and a vote of confidence from the head coach after his first start, Adjei-Barimah is more comfortable and ready to step up when called upon.
“Every game I’ve gotten more snaps, but never 60 so it was different,” Adjei-Barimah said in the locker room Monday. “But it’s football and I was ready.
“I always try to take mental reps in practice when I’m not in, just paying attention to what the other guys are doing. I’m going to go out there and do whatever is asked of me and try to get the job done. That’s how I take it on… It’s how you imagine it as an undrafted rookie, to come in and get an opportunity to play on Sunday.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Well at least he is trying to make changes. I don’t think this is the answer though.
Problem is, we should have tried these guys out about 5 or 6 weeks ago!! The CB’s have played poorly most of the season. Jenkins and Jennings have been almost terrible all season long. I gave Jennings a chance, but Jenkins hasn’t played well in a game for a couple of YEARS now, just ask the Dallas fans. Strangest thing for me was how much they seemed to like Moore in the off-season. Tried him out a little at CB, was supposed to at least compete for the starting nickle?? Then, all of a sudden, the guy NEVER even really gets a chance until now? I have also wondered why they haven’t given Tandy more of a chance at S or CB. Glad he is getting some more time on the field when it counts too.
It’s still too soon to say for sure but this combination seemed to work well. I’ve been impressed with Verner in the Nickel and Moore seemed to play very well against ODB which bodes well for him. This week we’ve got Dez so if these guys can cover him like they did ODB I think we’re in business. Another addition or 2 at CB and/or S in the offseason and we’ll be looking pretty good.
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