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Behind Enemy Lines: Arizona Cardinals host Bucs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the first half of their NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

After a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5, the Arizona Cardinals (2-3) will try and get back to the .500 mark when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.

The Buccaneers (2-2) dropped a close game to the New England Patriots, 19-14, at home last week. Quarterback Jameis Winston completed 26 of 46 pass attempts for 334 yards and one touchdown, and running back Doug Martin carried the ball 13 times for 74 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs’ defense held Tom Brady to one touchdown and one interception.

All week long, we’ll take you to Tampa Bay to give you an inside look at what’s happening with the Buccaneers as they prepare to face the Cardinals.

It’s Behind Enemy Lines…


Sunday, October 15

• Buccaneers Film Study: Watching the 2017 Arizona Cardinals (The Pewter Plank)

For the Buccaneers and Cardinals, these are two very different franchises than when they met last season.

One is expected to be on an upward swing, while the other is starting to descend after looking like a Super Bowl contender not too long ago.

• Lavonte David expected to make return from ankle sprain (ESPN NFL Nation)

In Week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings, David was carted off the field with a medial ankle sprain, forcing him to miss games against the New York Giantsand New England Patriots.

• Buccaneers game plan: Attacking and defending the Cardinals (The Pewter Plank)

The Bucs’ offensive line has played well above average in pass protection thus far this season. If that trend continues and quarterback Jameis Winston doesn’t repeat the 4 interception game from a year ago. Their passing game should have no problem keeping the chains moving and getting into the redzone.

• Buccaneers at Cardinals: Preview, broadcast info for Week 6 (The Pewter Plank)

All things considered, 2-2 is an okay place for the Bucs to be right now. There are some winnable games coming up over the next few weeks. Tampa Bay needs to take advantage, starting on Sunday in Arizona against the struggling Cardinals.


Saturday, October 14

• Bucs-Cardinals: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 4:05 p.m. game (Tampa bay Times)

For the past couple of years, the Bucs have lost games they should win. This feels like one of those games. Tampa Bay is better than Arizona. But something feels off about this one. Bucs struggle and lose.

• Buccaneers: Five Bucs to watch in week six versus Cardinals (The Pewter Plank)

If the Bucs are going to walk out of Arizona with a win, they will need to shut down the trio of receivers that Arizona has. Larry Fitzgerald, J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown will attempt to put on an aerial attack versus the Bucs Sunday, can they handle the heat?

Buccaneers-Cardinals Scouting Report: Keep your head on a swivel, Jameis (Tampa Bay Times)

How Winston responds Sunday will tell us quite a bit about his progression. When the teams met last season, Arizona’s blitz derailed the young quarterback, who was starting just the 18th game of his career. In the 40-7 loss, Winston completed half of his passes, threw four picks and posted a 39.2 rating. It stands as the worst game of his career.

• Buccaneers Round Table: Offensive Keep, Trade, and Release (The Pewter Plank)

Trade one, cut one, and release one.

For this, we’re starting with the offense, and the candidates are Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, and Doug Martin.

Each writer has been presented this premise. They each had to come up with their selections and reasons why they’d trade, cut, release each of these three players.

Friday, October 13

Bucs return to scene of their worst 2016 loss (Tampa Bay Times)

“Last year was unfortunate for us,” said quarterback Jameis Winston, who had a career-high five turnovers, including four interceptions, in what remains the lowest-rated game of his three-year NFL career. “The turnovers kind of put us out of it. … Turning the ball over was the biggest part.”

Bucs journal: Rookie O.J. Howard has good memories of Cardinals’ field (Tampa Bay Times)

The Bucs have a rough recent history at the Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium, losing 40-7 there last year, but one Tampa Bay player has great memories of playing on that field.

Rookie TE O.J. Howard had a breakout game in the national championship game against Clemson in January 2016, catching five passes for 208 yards and a pair of long touchdowns — 53 and 51 yards — in Alabama’s 45-40 win.

‘Tampa Curse’? Bucs’ notorious kicking woes more complicated than that (ESPN NFL Nation)

From the time general manager Jason Licht boldly traded into the second round of the 2016 NFL draft for Roberto Aguayo to Aguayo’s well-documented struggles to the subsequent struggles of replacement Nick Folk, no team has drawn more attention or scrutiny for its kicking woes than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bucs not surprised by success of rookie safety Justin Evans (ESPN NFL Nation)

It was the type of moment Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie safety Justin Evans dreamed about. The first series of his first NFL start. A prime-time game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. A badly overthrown pass intended for Chris Hogan. Evans pounced on it for the first interception of his NFL career.

The Buccaneers need to run the ball more (Bucs Nation)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers once again struggled to produce points on offense against the New England Patriots, a defense that was terrible in the prior weeks.


Thursday, October 12

• 2017 NFC playoff picture: What are the Buccaneers’ chances? (Tampa Bay Times)

Now that the Buccaneers are 2-2 and a quarter of the way through the regular season, it’s time to check in on the rest of the NFC. What does Tampa Bay’s path to the playoffs look like? Let’s size up the competition (playoff odds courtesy of Football Outsiders).

• Bucs eager to erase bad feelings after ’embarrassing’ loss to Cardinals last year (ESPN NFL Nation)

If you ask around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ locker room, the Arizona game in Week 2 last year is still somewhat of a sore subject. They turned the ball over five times and lost 40-7. Quarterback Jameis Winston threw four interceptions.

• Buccaneers: First quarter awards for the 2017 season (The Pewter Plank)

Through their first four games, there’s been obvious winners during that span. Winning comes with accolades and awards. Let’s look at those players and what you can look forward to from them during the second quarter of football.

• Buccaneers: A litmus test in Arizona (The Pewter Plank)

With the first quarter of the season completed the Buccaneers now have to prove whether they’re the same mediocre team from last year, or an improved playoff competitor. Against the Cardinals on Sunday they can show how far they’ve come. Unless they’ve managed to bleach their memory clear of it, I doubt many Buccaneer fans have forgotten what happened in week two of last season.

• Buccaneers at Cardinals: Five game-changing players for Week 6 (The Pewter Plank)

The Bucs and Cardinals are in different places roster-wise. Tampa Bay is up-and-coming and hoping to contend. Arizona fields a lot of veteran talent looking for a last shot at making a Super Bowl run. Regardless, there are going to be some great athletes on the field on Sunday afternoon. Which five can most impact the game’s final score?

• The Bucs aren’t good enough to be the best in the division (Bucs Nation)

The reality is that the Buccaneers aren’t the best team in the division, and they’re not even close right now. They’ve struggled to get to 2-2 against a fairly weak schedule and while they haven’t been bad, they’ve been disappointing—and nowhere near the best team in the division.


Wednesday, October 11

• Series History: Buccaneers-Cardinals (Buccaneers.com)

The Buccaneers have a chance to tie the all-time series with Arizona with a win on Sunday, which would also represent some payback after a lopsided loss in Glendale a year ago.

• Justin Evans Speeding Up Again (Buccaneers.com)

An offseason injury cost rookie S Justin Evans developmental time and slowed his integration into the defense, but he looked up-to-speed in his first start last week and is ready to contribute more.

• Buccaneers Injury Report, October 11 (Buccaneers.com)

The Buccaneers’ injury-plauged defense could be getting some support this weekend, partictularly at linebacker. Both Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander returned to practice on Wednesday, as did safety T.J. Ward. Here is the Buccaneers’ full injury report:

• Cardinals’ Bruce Arians sees ‘unbelievable potential’ in Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Times)

Winston’s lowest-rated effort in his 36 career games came in last year’s loss at Arizona — a 39.8 rating, matching his career high with four interceptions with only one touchdown pass in 52 attempts. Winston only has three interceptions in his first four games this season — none in the last two — and Arians likes what he’s seen.

• Gerald McCoy: ‘Uproar’ would result if NFL players can’t protest during anthem (Tampa Bay Online)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 team owners on Tuesday, saying a proposal would be discussed at next week’s league meetings that would require all players to stand during the anthem. Other Bucs players on Tuesday expressed their appreciation for the freedom that the Bucs — both from the Glazer family that owns the team to coach Dirk Koetter — allowed players to express themselves as they wanted on the issue.

• Patrick Murray brings familiar face, fresh perspective to Bucs’ kicking game (ESPN NFL Nation)

Murray rejoined the Bucs this week. It didn’t matter to him that the last two kickers who came through Tampa Bay — Nick Folk, who was released on Monday, and Roberto Aguayo, who was waived during the preseason — struggled miserably.

• Bucs sign DE Larry Webster to practice squad and make more moves (Bucs Wire)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the midst of plenty of roster moves this week. The Bucs signed Patrick Murray to become Nick Folk’s new replacement and on Tuesday, the Bucs signed defensive end Larry Webster to the practice squad. In the corresponding move, the Buccaneers parted ways with fullback Austin Johnson.


Tuesday, October 10

• Bucs Bring Back K Patrick Murray (Buccaneers.com)

On Monday, the Buccaneers signed Murray, who most recently kicked for the Cleveland Browns last fall, to replace kicker Nick Folk. Folk was placed on injured reserve with a “minor injury” classification. Murray gets a second go-around with his first team after handling the Buccaneers’ kicking duties during the 2014 season.

• Bucs Quarterly Report: Reasons to believe (Tampa Bay Online)

With the Bucs 2-2 through the first quarter of their season, we asked the Tampa Bay Times‘ coverage team for the biggest reasons to believe in Tampa Bay so far.

• Will Bucs benefit from mini bye after Thursday Night Football? (Tampa Bay Times)

We only talk about the value of a mini bye after a team wins. When the team wins, it’s because of the corrections and adjustments it made during the break. When it loses, it just continued to play bad football.

• Pass-rush help? Bucs taking look at DE Lamarr Houston (Tampa Bay Times)

The Bucs have only four sacks in their first four games — three came in Thursday’s loss to the Patriots — and the pass rush may have taken another hit as Ryan Russell dislocated his shoulder in Thursday’s game. There has been no word on any additional damage that may have been sustained in the injury.

Bucs offense showing balance in passing game (Tampa Bay Times)

The Bucs’ early game Thursday night put them back even with all but two NFL teams in playing four games each entering Sunday, and as a statistical quirk, the Bucs have four players with at least 200 receiving — Mike Evans (276), DeSean Jackson (249), Adam Humphries (207) and Cameron Brate (205). Only one other NFL team can boast that — the Patriots, who have five such players but have also now played five games.

• Doug Martin feels like he’s ‘back home,’ and that’s good news for Bucs (ESPN NFL Nation)

Between his performance Thursday night and in the preseason — when, at one point, he was averaging 6.0 yards per carry — imagine how much more juice Martin can give, especially next week against an Arizona Cardinals defense that ripped Winston to shreds last season with four interceptions.

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