Tampa Bay faces new special teams challenges in preparation for a Week 15 contest with the Atlanta Falcons.
Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop, long snapper Zach Triner and punter Bradley Pinion all landed on the reserve/COVID-19 on Tuesday according to NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman. The Bucs received the positive test reports on Monday according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times via Twitter.
Succop, Pinion, and Triner going on the reserve/COVID list could mean positive test(s) or contact with someone who has COVID according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman on Twitter.
The Bucs have a backup kicker in Greg Joseph on the practice squad but no backups for punter or long snapper per Bergman. Joseph has significant game experience, Tweeted Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times.
Tampa also sought out kicker Brett Maher, punter Dustin Colquitt, and long snapper Garrison Sanborn as possible fill-ins according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero via Twitter. All three entered COVID testing protocol Tuesday to play Sunday per The Athletic’s Greg Auman reported on Twitter.
Succop, Pinion, and Triner could still play Sunday if they test negative for COVID during their quarantine this week according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
Brown, Jones Top Four
The Bucs-Falcons matchup could feature two wide receivers with the fastest starts in league history — Antonio Brown of the Bucs and Julio Jones of the Falcons.
They rank in the top four all-time for the most receptions in their first 100 career games according to CBS Sports HQ on Twitter.
Brown joined the Bucs in October and caught 25 passes for 217 yards in his first five games with the team. He has yet to score a touchdown as a Buc. Speculation grew that the Bucs hadn’t been doing as well with him in action, but the Bucs quieted the critics for one week with the 26-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14.
Jones has 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine games this season. Due to ongoing hamstring issues, Jones may not play against the Bucs on Sunday.
Scotty Steps Up
Bucs wide receiver Scotty Miller made the highlight reel for the first time in weeks against the Vikings.
Miller caught a 48-yard touchdown from quarterback Tom Brady, their third touchdown connection this season. It also marked the fifth time they’ve connected on passes 35 yards or longer.
“We feel if he’s got a good pocket and he’s got a clean throw, then usually it’s right on the money and it’s easy for me,” Miller said according to Stroud. I think we’ve got a great connection, and hopefully, we can continue that.”
Miller had been hobbled by injury in the middle of the season and a deep core of receivers kept him from catching more. Brady has a load of quality receivers to throw to in Brown, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.
Stroud noted that the Bucs fare better when Miller catches the ball at least three or more times, going 4-1 in those games.