When Bucs guard Alex Cappa hopped off the field on one foot last Saturday night in Washington, it didn’t look too serious initially. At least for someone like Cappa, who finished a game last season with a fractured arm. Turns out Cappa’s injury will cost him the playoffs as he suffered a fractured ankle. As tough as he is, playing with a fractured ankle was even too much for the Bucs third-year guard from Humboldt State.

Bucs RG Alex Cappa

Bucs RG Alex Cappa – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

With no Cappa, Tampa Bay turned to veteran Ted Larsen to fill in and the journeyman struggled in protection for many of his reps against Washington. Now for this week’s game at New Orleans, the Buccaneers will turn to the young and inexperienced Aaron Stinnie who will get his first career start.

Stinnie spoke to media on Thursday and said he is confident he can fill in, while hopefully helping the Buccaneers reach the NFC Championship game.

“To do this, when you’re in that backup role, you’re pretty much preparing the whole year for a moment like this,” Stinnie said. “You always want to prepare yourself as though you are going to be the starter that week so that there is no surprise or shock to yourself when that moment [comes] that you have to go in. So, I’ve definitely been preparing for a while. As far as this week, I’m definitely trying to dive [deeper] into things, but it’s kind of just sticking with the same routine and program that I’ve been doing. I feel like what I’ve been doing all year long has been preparing me mentally and physically for the game, so I’m just trying to keep with those roots on it.”

While Stinnie is thankful for an opportunity to showcase his abilities, he hated to see it come at the expense of his friend and teammate.

“It’s like mixed emotions when that happens because ‘Cap’ – that’s my homeboy,” Stinnie said. “I hate to see him go down, but I want to be able to go out there and do him proud. I’m definitely excited for the first start – to be able to go out there and do what I can. I want to help put my hand in the pile and fill in.”

Center Ryan Jensen said on Thursday that Stinnie, while inexperienced, has had two great teachers to learn from.

“My first start came in, I think, Week 12 of my third year. Stinnie is a pro and he’s continually trying to get better throughout practice,” Jensen said. “Being a young guard and being able to watch Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa – who has really come along the last two years – it teaches you a lot sitting behind those guys [about] how to do the job, how to approach game week and stuff like that. Stinnie has been doing that. He wants to get better every day and he has gotten better. I have the utmost confidence in Aaron stepping in.”

Bucs G Aaron Stinnie

Bucs G Aaron Stinnie – Photo by: USA Today

Stinnie agreed with Cappa that despite not seeing many game-action reps, he has learned from the guys he’s watched week in and week out.

“I’ve learned a ton from both of them,” Stinnie said. “They’re great guys to learn under. Each of them has a ton of knowledge, a ton of experience and they’re both really great players. I like to pick both of their brains as much as I can, learning different techniques [and] different styles. It’s insane the amount of knowledge and technique that I’ve been able to learn from them – just different things that can arise here and there in the game and just in practice. It’s been awesome to be able to learn from them.”

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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jongruden
4 months ago

The O Line knows they only go as far as protecting Tom Brady if they don’t they will lose they do and they have a chance to win very simple

TBChucky
4 months ago

I’m sure as hell rooting for him.. Hopefully he’ll hold his own and help his team get to the Championship game.

plopes808
4 months ago

I’m pretty confident in the oline even without Cappa. Last game we were without Marpet which I believe is a bigger loss than Cappa yet we still protected pretty well. Brady’s quick release will be on full display as it has the past 4 weeks. Brady ball will keep the chains moving and hopefully the defense follows the blueprint laid out by Chicago. Press man coverage and pressure up the middle. Make Brees try to beat us deep as it seems he doesn’t have the arm for it anymore.
Go Bucs!

Spitfire
Reply to  plopes808
4 months ago

When Marpet was in the the first game and Haeg replaced him it was a nightmare. When the moved Jensen to his spot and Shipley at Center it was workable. I feel better about missing Cappa than Marpet but even though we’re better with Cappa in there, hopefully Stinnie shows up and proves he can be at the very least a solid backup and hold things down. That would actually be a dream to know we have a guy waiting on the bench that can fill right in because we don’t seem to have that otherwise. He look like a… Read more »

Captain Sly
4 months ago

I’m not ruling Cap out until he’s officially shows up on IR… Cappa has shown to be one tough cookie especially last year playing with that broken arm. Even with one arm in hand to hand combat down in the trenches he was able to consistently beat his man. I’ll take a one legged Cap over a “too slow Stinnie” or an “over the hill Larsen”

BigSombrero
4 months ago

Stinnie looks stout, that’s for sure. I just hope the communication is good. I think the Saints will occasionally blitz and run stunts/games at the entire line all night.

scubog
4 months ago

The kid Stinnie looks the part. Funny how many folks wanted to write-off Cappa early in his career and scoffed at Jason Licht for drafting another small school offensive lineman. Now those same folks are praising the youngster and hoping the O-line can hold up without him.

eaustinyoung
4 months ago

I’m not super worried about the RG spot because it’s sandwiched between the two titans Jensen and Wirfs. I think when Marpet was out and Haeg was in at LG he was between Jensen and a struggling D. Smith and that weakened the whole left side.

Last edited 4 months ago by eaustinyoung
Sactobuc
Reply to  eaustinyoung
4 months ago

Here’s to that being the case..

RW
RW
Reply to  eaustinyoung
4 months ago

Wirfs is a great player; Jensen is just OK. Fingers crossed on this one.

eaustinyoung
4 months ago

Also, I know it’s a polarizing statistics source, but PFF rates him higher than Jensen, Cappa, Haeg, and Smith. By their rating he’s actually 3rd best OL in Tampa behind Marpet (#1) and Wirfs (#2).

Captain Sly
Reply to  eaustinyoung
4 months ago

Stats are sooo overrated!
Tyler Heinke ranked higher than Big Ben, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill and there’s not a person alive thinking he would start above any of those guys.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Captain Sly
4 months ago

You don’t know that. Dude was very poised. Don’t be shocked to see him land a starting gig. You can’t say he’s worse than Rivers or Tannehill until you see him play a stretch of games. He won’t be Wilson or Brees that’s for sure.

Captain Sly
Reply to  eaustinyoung
4 months ago

Lol. Well “Not a person Alive” was certainly Hyperbolic since we have examples like Matt Flynn, Matt Cassell, Matt Schaub & Brock Osweiller. But I digress. Aaron Stinnie may hold his own (fingers crossed) but we shall see. Cheers!

Pick6
4 months ago

It’s harder than usual to know what going on down the depth chart with access to the facilities, coaches, and players being as limited as it has been this season. I am hoping for the best, or at least that the Larson\Haeg experience was rock bottom and Stinnie is slightly better

76bucsfan46
4 months ago

The NFL is a funny thing, sometimes you get a guy like Stinnie coming off the bench and find out he is a gamer when given a shot. Let’s hope it’s not to big for him. Biggest concern is being fluid in the communication and not having a bunch of nervous penalties.