It was a slow day at the Bucs’ training facility on Thursday as the team continues to prepare for their matchup against the Bengals this Sunday.
The day’s biggest topics revolved around an ankle injury that Peyton Barber sustained against the Browns and what the Bucs must do to keep the offense firing at their current rate, one that is on pace to top the Rams’ “Greatest Show On Turf” as the most prolific offense in NFL history.
Barber returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday, but should he be forced to miss time or handle a lighter workload, it will be Ronald Jones’ first chance to show himself off as a lead back in the NFL.
Jones has been active in three of the Buccaneers’ six games this season and despite showing a much better version of himself than we saw in the preseason, the production still isn’t quite there at just 42 yards on 17 carries so far.
His running style has been much more aggressive, he hasn’t seemed nearly as timid as he did in the preseason and the coaching staff continues to reiterate their confidence in him and his ability.
Going back to the explosiveness of the Bucs’ offense, quarterback Jameis Winston acknowledged that there are plenty of factors that go into building a unit of this caliber. He called himself blessed to be a quarterback in this position and even gave thanks to the men upstairs, God and general manager Jason Licht.
Head coach Dirk Koetter isn’t as interested in the stats and yards, though.
“Yards and stats are nice to look back on later,” Koetter said. “But right now you’ve got to get one more point than the other team. Yards have to transfer to points, points have to transfer to wins. That’s the only way you can look at it right now.”
If the rest of the season is any indication, the offense isn’t the main area of concern for the Buccaneers. The defense has struggled mightily and are now forced to adjust and continue without their captain and anchor at linebacker, Kwon Alexander.
Alexander suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Browns, in addition to rookie LB Jack Cichy, which has forced the Bucs’ hand in re-signing Riley Bullough and adding depth by signing Kevin Minter.
With second-year linebacker Kendell Beckwith’s timetable to return still not clear, Adarius Taylor will be taking over the middle linebacker spot for the time being with Devonte Bond filling in at strongside and the team’s perennial star Lavonte David remaining at the weakside linebacker position.