Tampa Bay’s next game faced another COVID-19 hurdle with an equipment staff member testing positive for the virus Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
A Buccaneers' equipment staff member tested positive and has been sent home, per source. It is not expected to pose an issue for Monday Night's game vs. the Giants, who are dealing with their own COVID-19 issues.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 29, 2020
It’s a hard game to move, too, with Election Day Nov. 3 though the NFL used a Tuesday as a makeup date once this season. NJ.com’s Zach Rosenblatt reported that the “NFL has been adamant that league employees will be permitted the day off to go and vote.”
Additionally, the Buccaneers (5-2) and Giants (1-6) have different bye weeks at Week 13 and Week 11 respectively. That will make rescheduling tougher, The Atheltic’s Greg Auman Tweeted.
Both the Giants and Bucs still have their bye weeks ahead — Giants in Week 11, Bucs in Week 13 — so while it wouldn’t be easy, game could be reshuffled to later date if necessary. Like last week, NFL could pre-emptively move it from prime time.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) October 29, 2020
Tampa already had one game moved this season due to COVID-19 concerns, Week 7 against the Las Vegas Raiders. The NFL moved the game Oct. 22, slated for Sunday Night Football, to the afternoon in case of postponement.
Giants starting guard Will Hernandez tested positive according to the NFL.com’s Kevin Patra. Most of the Giants offensive linemen, except for four, and two position coaches quarantined according to NFL Network reporters, Patra wrote.
Rosenblatt reported that the Giants coach Joe Judge hopes to have the quarantined players back Friday. The Giants concluded no individuals with “close contact with Hernandez were ‘high risk,'” Rosenblatt wrote.
According to Buccaneers.com’ Scott Smith, the matchup already didn’t bode well for a Giants team that ranks near the bottom of the NFL at 31st for both scoring offense, 17.4 points per game, and total offensive yardage, 282.4 yards per contest. Tampa ranks third in yards allowed, 291.3, and eighth in points surrendered, 20.3.
Bucs D-line edge
Tampa’s game with the Giants will mark the second-straight week the Buccaneers defensive line will face an offensive line impacted by COVID.
Las Vegas had five starting linemen out for practices before Week 7 due to right tackle Trent Brown being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as an exposure precaution, per CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr. The Raiders got four of their starters back in time for the game with Buccaneers, Kerr wrote.
The Buccaneers defensive line capitalized on the Raiders offensive line’s limited practice time in a dominating 45-20 win. Tampa’s defensive front pressured Raiders quarterback Derek Carr 29.3 percent of the time, according to Pro Football Focus’ Holden Perrelli. The Buccaneers D-line held the Raiders to 3.2 yards per running play and helped linebacker Devin White, the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, sack Carr three times for 13 yards lost and a forced fumble.
Keeping the Giants game on schedule could impact the Buccaneers’ momentum.
Tampa won its last two games convincingly over the Raiders and Green Bay Packers, 38-10. The Buccaneers rose to No. 3 in NFL.com’s Power Rankings Oct. 27, and ESPN’s Aaron Schatz considers the Bucs the best team in the NFL right now.
The Buccaneers have a critical NFC South Division matchup the following week at home with the New Orleans Saints (4-2) Week 8. The Saints, which trail the Bucs by a half game, also have significant momentum going with three consecutive wins.