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Bucs-Dolphins Pregame Report

Posted Nov 11, 2013

S Dashon Goldson returns as WR Chris Owusu and CB Danny Gorrer are the only Buccaneers out due to injury on Monday night…Miami will be without three starters, including CB Dmitri Patterson

  • The Buccaneers are excited to prove themselves on their first Monday Night Football game in two years
  • A repeat of last week’s good numbers in the ground game and in turnover ratio could produce the Bucs’ first win of the season
  • S Dashon Goldson will return after missing the last two games with a knee injury
In Week 10, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play on a Monday for the first time in over two years, last getting that prime-time spotlight for a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts on October 3, 2011.  It has been quite a bit longer than that, however, since the Buccaneers’ head coach, Greg Schiano, was part of the unique atmosphere that is Monday Night Football.

He’s eager to see how his current team handles the experience.

“I haven’t been involved in one since the late ‘90s and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Schiano.  There’s an electricity in the air and I can’t wait to see our team play.”

Schiano’s last MNF game as part of an NFL staff came during his three seasons with the Chicago Bears, on October 27, 1997.  It was a thrilling 36-33 overtime victory for the Bears over the Miami Dolphins…who just happen to be Tampa Bay’s opponent on Monday night.  The Bucs will be trying to get the 10th Monday night win in franchise history (they are 9-9 on the series overall); their first MNF victory was against, yep, the Miami Dolphins, a 23-17 decision on November 29, 1982.

The Buccaneers can hope those are serendipitous omens pointing to their first victory of the 2013 season, but the more useful signs are a lot more recent.  Tampa Bay dropped its eighth straight last weekend at Seattle – and, as all Buc players and coaches have said, they have no use for “moral victories” – but it’s undeniable that they played their strongest game of the season before falling in overtime.  In fact, the Buccaneers put many of the elements on paper that usually point to a win in the NFL, including 205 rushing yards and a three-to-zero turnover ratio.  Duplicating that is what is most likely to bring the Bucs’ that much-needed win.

“We ran the ball well; that was critical,” said Schiano of the game in Seattle.  “And we took care of the football.  We need to do that.  We took it away three times and we gave it up none.  We need to continue to do that.  You don’t do that very often and not win, so that was disappointing.  So if we can continue to play like that – run the ball, take the ball away and don’t give it away – we’ll win plenty of games.”

- RB M. James hopes to build on last week's breakout performance
The Bucs got those 205 yards on the ground without any contribution from leading rusher Doug Martin, and that will remain their challenge for the rest of the year as Martin is now on injured reserve.  Mike James led the way with 158 yards on 28 carries, which was gratifying not only for the rookie running back but for the Bucs’ coaches, who have appreciated James’ approach to his craft.

“Mike is a guy who’s very conscientious as far as studying tape, studying his plays, taking care of his body,” said Schiano.  “As a coach you love that, when a guy reaps what he sows.”

James has certainly earned himself many more handoffs with his play in the last few weeks, but the Bucs will make sure that he has enough support from the rest of the running back corps to stay fresh down the stretch.

“Mike James, Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey – those are the three guys that will be our running backs now and moving forward for the rest of the year,” said Schiano.  “They’re all very qualified guys.  We just have to make sure that we don’t wear anybody out.  Mike does everything, he does everything we ask of him – protection, running the ball.  We have to get him off some special teams because he was playing on a lot of special teams, as well.  He did a fine job in Seattle and I think he’ll keep doing a fine job.”

James and company will be trying to move the ball against a Miami defense that ranks 21st in the NFL against the run, and 23rd overall.  The strength of that defense is in its front line, where five different players have at least 2.5 sacks already this season.  The Dolphins have also done fairly well against the run on a per-carry basis, ranking 13th at 4.0 yards allowed per tote.  Schiano pinpoints one player in particular on that defensive front that must be accounted for.

“Defensively, Cameron Wake is just a dominant football player,” said the Bucs’ coach.  “Not that their whole [defensive] front isn’t very good, because they are, but Cameron is at another level.  So we have to know where he is at all times.  Offensively, the quarterback [Ryan Tannehill] is doing a really good job.  With Mike Wallace out at wideout, any time there is a big play threat.  They’re a really solid football team that’s playing well.  They beat  a very good team in the Cincinnati Bengals [in Week Nine].  They were having a little bit of a losing streak of their own, and then all of a sudden they knock off Cincinnati.  So it’s going to be a great challenge and our guys are ready to play.”

Also potentially giving the Buccaneers a boost is the return of starting free safety Dashon Goldson, who has missed the last two outings with a knee injury.  On the other hand, WR Chris Owusu is still not recovered from a foot injury that has kept him out of the last two games, as well, and he will be inactive on Monday night.  In addition, CB Danny Gorrer will have to sit out after sustaining a groin injury in Seattle.

In addition to Gorrer and Owusu, the Buccaneers deactivated CB Deveron Carr, S Bradley McDougald, G Patrick Omameh, G Carl Nicks and DE Steven Means.

The Dolphins declared the following players inactive before Monday night’s game: QB Pat Devlin, RB Mike Gillislee, CB Dmitri Patterson, LB Koa Misi, OL David Arkin, G Dallas Thomas and T Jonathan Martin.  That list includes three starters: Martin, the right tackle; Patterson, the right cornerback; and Misi, the strongside linebacker.  Former Atlanta Falcon Tyson Clabo takes over at right tackle for Martin while LB Jason Trusnik and CB Nolan Carroll step up for Misi and Patterson, respectively.

Martin is unavailable because he recently left the team due to a much-publicized conflict with fellow Dolphin O-Line starter Richie Incognito.  Incognito is currently suspended by the team and has been replaced at left guard by Nate Garner.  Schiano doesn’t believe that situation will affect the Dolphins on Monday night, at least in terms of their attention to the task at hand.

“I think the distraction stuff goes away when you get in the stadium, but the actual fact that two of the guys that were playing aren’t, hopefully that will be a little bit of an advantage for us,” he said.

The Buccaneers and Dolphins will kick off their Week 10 matchup at Raymond James Stadium at 8:40 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.  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.