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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds answers your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account each week in the Bucs Monday Mailbag  Submit your question to the Bucs Monday Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose to answer for this week’s edition.

QUESTION: When do y’all write an apology to Ke’Shawn Vaughn for writing him off too early?

ANSWER: This question is in reference to last week’s tweet from Pewter Report’s Twitter account after running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn stumbled when trying to catch a Tom Brady pass after dropping an early catchable ball. The gist of the PR tweet is that Vaughn wasn’t good enough to see extended playing time this year nor in 2022 – even though he’s currently the only running back under contract next year. Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II and Giovani Bernard are all in the last year of their contracts.

Vaughn has been okay in pass protection, but has really struggled catching the ball since entering the league. Prior to Sunday’s game at Carolina, Vaughn was targeted 12 times and been credited with five drops and just five catches. And he fumbled right after catching one of those passes.

The second-year back out of Vanderbilt was targeted once against the Panthers and had the pass bounce off his hands. He hit the ground in disgust after dropping yet another catchable ball from Tom Bady.

Yet Vaughn shined as a runner versus the Panthers. He led Tampa Bay with a career-high 70 yards on seven carries, including a career-long 55-yard touchdown. Vaughn entered the game with 50 yards rushing on 11 carries this season after rushing for 109 yards on 26 carries (4.2 avg.) last year.

Bucs RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn

Bucs RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Photo by: USA Today

His 55-yard touchdown jaunt was impressive and great to see. But it was just one highlight reel run. Does he have any other similar runs in his future? Can he be trusted to catch the ball in the passing game? One big run does not make a career. Just ask Jones, who had a 98-yard touchdown run in a 192-yard performance at Carolina last year. He’s been a backup all season to Fournette and likely won’t be re-signed.

As the philosopher Aristotle once said, “Excellence is a habit, not an act.” I’d love nothing more than to see Vaughn make a habit of reeling off some big runs and proving me wrong. Time will tell if my tweet about Vaughn was premature or prognostic.

QUESTION: Thinking ahead to the playoff roster, has Cyril Grayson earned the WR5/6 slot ? He seems to be more productive and playing with more urgency than the others. Keep Kenjon Barner as kick returner/punt returner?

ANSWER: I was thoroughly amazed and pleasantly surprised by the game that Cyril Grayson had at Carolina. I wasn’t quite sure he had that type of performance in him. Grayson, who really struggled catching the ball his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, came up clutch for the Bucs against the Panthers. He finished with three catches for 81 yards, including a career-long 62-yarder. Grayson also had a 14-yard run on an end around.

But after the game, Grayson got just as much praise for his downfield block on Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 55-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Grayson sprinted downfield and blocked Panthers defensive back Myles Hartfield on the scoring jaunt.

“Cyril made a great effort on Ke’Shawn’s run, and [made] a big play also,” said Bucs head coach Bruce Arians after the win at Carolina. “He’s played big each time he’s gotten his opportunity.

“Cyril is a ferocious blocker. He’s a speed guy, but he will block. At that position, you’ve got to be able to block. He’s gotten so much better. If there was a most improved player the last two years, he’s worked harder than anybody we’ve had on our practice squad. Every time he’s gotten an opportunity he’s flashed with it.”

Bucs WR Cyril Grayson

Bucs WR Cyril Grayson – Photo by: USA Today

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady was also impressed with Grayson’s block and ran down to congratulate him.

“That was a great block,” Brady said. “It’s a team game. Nothing is accomplished without everybody doing their job. That was a great effort by Cyril. We wouldn’t have scored without Cyril’s effort. I love seeing that. That’s what great team football is all about.”

To answer your question I think Grayson could be the fifth receiver in the playoffs behind Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Breshad Perriman and Tyler Johnson. Grayson plays outside, while Johnson plays in the slot position that Chris Godwin played. With the return of Evans from injury and Perriman from the COVID list, I could see the speedy Grayson beating out Scotty Miller and Jaelon Darden for an active roster spot on game day. Especially for his ability to block and use his speed at wide receiver.

Arians gave him one heck of an endorsement. We’ll see if Grayson can string along some similar performances down the stretch.

And yes, I would like to see more of Kenjon Barner and less of Jaelon Darden in the return game. Barner averaged 8.8 yards per punt return on four attempts versus Carolina. Darden has averaged 7.7 yards per punt return and just 18.7 yards per kick return. I’m just not sold on Darden yet in the NFL.

QUESTION: Have any of the young guys caught your eye with so many regulars out? Do you think Ronald Jones II or O.J. Howard can earn a second contract in the next couple weeks with more playing time?

ANSWER: Well, never say never – but I don’t think so. I don’t think Ronald Jones II wants to return to Tampa Bay, especially if Leonard Fournette is re-signed. And I’m not sure the Bucs try hard to keep him, because he’s a liability in the passing game as a blocker and receiver.

O.J. Howard has just disappeared from the offense this year. He has just 14 catches for 135 yards and one touchdown. Howard had an opportunity to step up when Rob Gronkowski missed some time and just didn’t do it. Maybe he’s still not confident in his surgically-repaired Achilles.

Howard is currently playing on his fifth-year option. I just don’t see the Bucs wanting to re-sign him after this year. Cam Brate has filled in as the No. 2 tight end all season ahead of Howard. I would imagine that Tampa Bay will attempt to re-sign Rob Gronkowski and will look at drafting a tight end to replace Howard next April.

QUESTION: If Antonio Brown is healthy the rest of the year, do you think he completely fill Chris Godwin’s void and more? Also when will Le’Veon Bell play?

ANSWER: Can Antonio Brown fill Chris Godwin’s shoes in terms of production? Yes. In his first game back in about two months, Brown was targeted 15 times at Carolina and caught 10 passes for 101 yards. He won most of his battles with top cover cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Bucs WR Antonio Brown

Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: USA Today

But from a role standpoint, Godwin’s shoes will be harder to fill. Brown is an outside receiver, often playing the flanker position on the strong side of the formation. Godwin is the Bucs’ slot receiver, and that requires a bigger body capable of blocking in the run game. Tampa Bay has turned to Tyler Johnson to replace Godwin in that role, but the team doesn’t trust him as a playmaker. Johnson wasn’t even targeted on Sunday in Carolina.

The Bucs have also used tight end Cam Brate in Godwin’s role as a motion blocker, and will continue to use both Brate and Johnson as interior blockers in the run game.

As for Le’Veon Bell, he actually played against the Panthers late in the game. Bell played just a few snaps and had two carries for minus-1 yard to help Tampa Bay run out the clock.

QUESTION: Do many on the team utilize the TB12 facilities for pliability training and recovery from injuries? I’m interested to hear if guys that are injured are utilizing TB12 to try and get back from the playoffs.

ANSWER: Yes, the Bucs’ training staff does work in conjunction with TB12 and trainer Alex Guerrero with everything from injury prevention and injury rehab to nutrition. It’s been a great marriage between the Bucs and TB12. Several players have credited the training methods and diet from TB12 in helping their performance. Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans is one of those players who says he’s in the best shape of his career thanks to TB12.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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fredster
fredster
4 months ago

OGM you have guys that wrote people off too quick then you have guys that see one good run and he’s great. I still lean towards Vaughn is a bust. He looks to me like another RoJo one trick pony unless he can catch a ball. Seriously never seen a dude drop so many easy passes! Crazy. Grayson looked good. Johnson is starting to look very lackluster now with the star WR’s out. He cant block for shit either. RoJo and Howard are gone next year I’m sure.

Last edited 4 months ago by fredster
Dman
Dman
4 months ago

Guys coming off the bench and making a splash or not doesn’t predict whether they will be consistent performers. No idea what Vaughn will do, can do without PT and practicing with starters. RoJo was clearly our best RB last season until sidelined by COVID. No idea what happened there, but clear Bucs don’t want him. And in his brief appearances this season he’s still our best runner. OJ has never been good and was a wasted draft pick and $$$$ and cap space as proven over five seasons.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
4 months ago

Writing people off and overpraising others is a media specialty. How many in the media declared the Death of Buffalo and the Second Coming of Christ – i.e., the Pats – after their weird game in the cold and wind at home vs. the Patriots? I’ll tell you – virtually all of them did. Flash forward to Week 16, and the Bills humiliate the Pats at their home, and are now on track to win their division. Ditto with Dak Prescott … even Jerry Jones was proclaiming a “Dak slump” just a week ago .. and now look at him.… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Naplesfan
Captain Sly
Captain Sly
4 months ago

Well PR does have history of writing guys off, see RoJo, Vita Vea, SMB, Leonard Fournette, and AB. Yeah that Guy!

Pete Wood
Pete Wood
4 months ago

I don’t think Howard is coming back, but I can’t fault the Bucs for drafting him. At the time I thought Howard was a steal who easily could have been a top ten pick. The draft is always a gamble, I reckon. I wanted the Bucs to draft Sammy Watkins, not Mike Evans. Man, was I ever wrong.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Pete Wood
4 months ago

I wanted Aaron Donald that year. Watching him at Pitt I thought he was better than Sapp at Miami. Glad we got Mike though.

RW
RW
4 months ago

Second game in a row where an opposing DB ran right through Johnson’s “block” to tackle a Bucs receiver on a WR screen. Compared to Godwin, Johnson has the hands, but no speed or toughness. Huge downgrade.

Joseph
Joseph
4 months ago

Besides the one run Vaughn still looks pretty bad

twspin
twspin
4 months ago

Look Guys, Its that time of yr like my dad use to say, Its Nut cuttin time. With all our ever-increasing injuries, it’s time for at least 3 guys to step up and in. Who will they be? Grayson is taking full advan of his opp. We now need another D lineman to up his game. with yesterdays injury. Nobody feels sorry for us. Remember, sometimes it’s not the very best team to win it all. Its the healthiest team playing well who hits the lotto. No excuses. Get her done baby!

Spitfire
Spitfire
4 months ago

Apologies to Vaughn? He needs more than just 1 wide open lane 55 yard run. It was great to see and I’d love to see it more, but he catches worse than RoJo which is saying something. I for one was rooting like hell for Vaughn after last year saying I saw potential in him while others were ready to toss him, but he hasn’t done any favors against that argument this year aside from one run. He needs to make some solid catches and have more good runs before anyone is ready to change their tune.