Each week I’ll be taking a closer look at the snap count distribution for the Bucs offense and defense, assessing what we can learn from who played the most and who played the least on Sunday.
Here’s a look at which Buccaneers played the most and the least in the team’s 44-27 victory over the division rival Atlanta Falcons in Week 17.
When top receiver Mike Evans went down with a knee injury after just 11 plays, Antonio Brown stepped into his largest workload of the year, playing a season-high 56 snaps while recording 11 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He and Chris Godwin anchored the top two receiver spots, and Scotty Miller split WR3 opportunities with Tyler Johnson. Miller finished with one catch for 13 yards and had a drop-turned-interception, while Johnson reeled in one pass for 16 yards on two targets.
The Bucs got Rob Gronkowski out of the game when they could, as Cam Brate saw his highest snap count total of the season with 34 reps. With Tanner Hudson inactive, Antony Auclair seized the no. 3 tight end role for 10 snaps, while extra tackle Joe Haeg played just two snaps, the lowest mark for him since Week 12.
Leonard Fournette got the start for the Bucs, but Ronald Jones still received the bulk of the duties, playing six more snaps than his teammate and rushing 12 times for 78 yards and a score compared to five carries for 13 yards for Fournette. Ke’Shawn Vaughn played just three snaps after an impressive Week 16 performance, and didn’t receive a target or a carry.
Despite Kevin Minter’s struggles in pass coverage, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles refused to take him off the field even in pass-obvious situations, as the veteran linebacker played every snap on Sunday. Chapelle Russell also saw his first defensive snaps of the season, entering the game for three snaps with Atlanta near the goal line.
With all the inactives for the Bucs defense, a ton of players saw the field far more than they typically would. Playing in his first NFL game, undrafted free agent Benning Potoa’e saw 17 reps, while sixth-round draft pick Khalil Davis played 14. The duo split the Bucs’ fifth defensive tackle role in a strong rotation, while Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Will Gholston stayed around where they’ve been in snap counts each week. Ndamukong Suh led the way for the interior defensive line, picking up his sixth sack for his highest total since 2015.
Mike Edwards played sparingly in a game the Bucs really should have used him, but perhaps he’s still being bothered by a hip injury. Andrew Adams got a few reps down near the goal line, while Cam Gill found his way onto the field for nine snaps on Sunday and nearly had his first sack but Suh got to Matt Ryan a second earlier in the fourth quarter.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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