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Bucs, Eagles Name Game Inactives

Posted Oct 13, 2013

The Buccaneers will try to extend their streak of strong starts following the bye week, though Philly’s fast-paced offense will make that more challenging…Plus, injury updates, inactives and more

  • The Bucs have spent two weeks emphasizing “assignment football” against an Eagles offense that can quickly shift its tempo into high gear
  • Tampa Bay’s offense will be without WR Mike Williams, who will sit out a game for the first time in his four-year career
  • The Eagles will start second-year player Nick Foles at quarterback, but the injured Michael Vick has been kept active for the game
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won the game immediately following their bye week in five of the last six seasons, suggesting that they are adept at quickly ramping back up to full speed.  They’ll need that ability, more so than ever, to make it six of the last seven.

That’s because the frenetic Philadelphia Eagles are on town, bringing with them the Chip Kelly-led offense that frequently moves from snap to snap at hyper speed.  Kelly’s Eagles are second to last in the NFL in time of possession and yet somehow still eighth in the league in scoring.  When they score, they score fast.

Of course, Kelly was expected to import the up-tempo offense he perfected at the University of Oregon into the NFL, and he hasn’t disappointed.  However, his Buccaneer counterpart, Greg Schiano, says the real complicating factor is that the Eagles don’t always operate at a breakneck pace.

“It’s a combination,” said Schiano.  “It’s the speed and the tempo that they can [utilize].  They don’t do it all the time, but they have the ability to kick it into it.  And the run game is a little different.  They do a lot of read-zone.  They’re reading different linemen, they’re reading linebackers, so it’s a form of option football.  It’s not the triple-option you see in college and high school, but it is a form of option football that forces defenses to play assignment football.”

The Eagles have rode that approach to the NFL’s top ranking in run offense, with starting tailback LeSean McCoy individually leading the league in rushing.  McCoy is talented enough to succeed in any system, but Kelly’s attack is doing a good job of providing him with big-play opportunities.

“You really have to be on your assignment; otherwise, there’s going to be a gaping hole,” said Schiano.  “Our guys are going to have to play disciplined and they’re going to have to tackle well.  One of the things about this offense is that they try to create space and make you make tackles in that space.  The faster you can recognize and close up that space, the better you’ll have a chance to tackle one of the best running backs in the National Football League.”

-- QB Mike Glennon will target new players with WR Mike Williams out
The Eagles might be particularly determined to get the ground game going since they have been forced to make a change under center.  Veteran starting QB Michael Vick – a serious rushing threat of his own – won ‘t start due to a hamstring injury, which means second-year man Nick Foles will take over under center.  As good as Vick can be – he currently has a 90.6 passer rating and 307 rushing yards – he wasn’t an absolute lock to the be the starter when the 2013 offseason began.  Foles was good enough in a series of starts late in 2012, including a December win in Tampa, that he was a serious consideration for the job.  And the fact that Foles started in Raymond James Stadium just 10 months ago is probably more of a help to him than a Buccaneers’ defense that looks radically different in 2013.

“It’s a totally different scheme,” said Schiano of his team’s defense. “[Foles] has a familiarity with our defense, which hasn’t changed, so if anybody has the advantage it’s him.  The reality is we have to defend their plays, defend their schemes, defend [McCoy], defend their running backs and receivers.  This is going to be quite a challenge.”

Vick is active for the game, along with rookie QB Matt Barkley.

On the other hand, neither left guard Carl Nicks nor starting wide receiver Mike Williams will be able to suit up on Sunday against the Eagles.  Nicks has the return of his MRSA infection to contend with, while Williams will miss a game for the first time in his four-year NFL career due to a hamstring strain he aggravated on the practice field.  Ted Larsen will get the start for Nicks, becoming the third player to start at left guard for the Buccaneers in the first five games.  Gabe Carimi started there in Weeks One and Two while Nicks was out but Carimi recently missed two weeks due to illness.

The Bucs’ receiving corps will have a completely different look following the bye week, with Tiquan Underwood returning to the team and Chris Owusu getting a promotion from the practice squad.  The team did not specify who will start in Williams’ place, but it will likely be Underwood or second-year player Eric Page.

“We brought Ti back,” said Schiano.  “Ti’s familiar with our offense and he worked with Mike [Glennon] all preseason.  They’ve probably thrown the most balls together as far as Mike and any receiver, so that’s good.  Page is going to step up; [Russell] Shepard is going to have to step up; Owusu might step up.  These are guys that have been working with Mike, so I’m excited.  These guys have worked their tails off to be ready to play.”

In addition to Nicks and Williams, the Buccaneers have deactivated the following players: CB Michael Adams, CB Rashaan Melvin, G Patrick Omameh, DE Trevor Scott and DE William Gholston.

The Eagles’ seven inactive players are CB Shaun Prater, CB Jordan Poyer, T Matt Tobin, T Dennis Kelly, DE Damion Square, TE Emil Igwenagu and TE James Casey.

The Buccaneers and Eagles will kick off their Week Four matchup at Raymond James Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be carried by Fox.  The action will also be broadcast by the Buccaneers Radio Network and its flagship station, US 103.5 FM.  That radio broadcast will be available via a live stream on Buccaneers.com.  Visit Buccaneers.com throughout the day to for further reports on the game action, including coverage of the team’s postgame press conferences.