1. CB Jude Adjei-Barimah
Throughout training camp, Adjei-Barimah worked with the first-team defense and did so while playing at a high level. He's taken the majority of his snaps in the slot this season and has been on the field for 184 defensive plays, or 38% of the time, according to Football Outsiders. He's also been a key contributor on special teams, playing 80 snaps. In nine games, he has 21 tackles, two passes defensed and a forced fumble. In just his second season, don't be surprised to see Adjei-Barimah come on strong in the second half of the year.
- OL Evan Smith**
In the Bucs' Week 9 loss to the Falcons, Smith entered the game at center in relief and an injured Joe Hawley. As the Bucs prepare to host the Bears in Week 10, Hawley's status is still unknown. But the Bucs enjoy the rare luxury of having a starting-caliber backup in Smith. Heading into the 2015 season, Smith was entrenched as the Bucs' starter at center. After suffering an injury, Tampa Bay signed Hawley, who played so well he remained the team's starter when Smith returned. Smith is the Bucs' backup at both guard positions, but his true position is center. The Buccaneers have had the same five offensive linemen start in all nine of their games this season. Keep an eye on how the unit gels with Smith at center, if Hawley is unable to play in Week 10.
3. WR Cecil Shorts
With injuries continuing to pile up at wide receiver, Shorts will have an opportunity to become more and more involved in the Bucs' offense as the season pushes on. The team has already lost Vincent Jackson for the year, and Russell Shepard wasn't able to go when the Bucs hosted the Falcons in Week 9. Shorts has proved he can be a productive wide receiver in the NFL; he has three seasons where he's caught 50 or more passes and had 42 receptions a year ago. Shorts has just two catches this year, but could very well break out in the Bucs' final eight games.
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' game against the Falcons.