3 Things to Watch Following the Bye

A few things to keep an eye on following the Buccaneers' Bye Week.

A look back at the first five games of the 2016 season.

1. Jameis Winston and turnovers.
During his rookie campaign, Winston struggled with interceptions early in the year but rebounded well. He threw seven picks in the Bucs' first four games, but went the next four without turning the ball over a single time. Winston had eight interceptions in his first four games this year, but wasn't intercepted in the fifth. The Bucs had a bye in Week 6, so keep an eye on Winston to potentially begin a new streak as Tampa Bay takes the field on Sunday.  

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  1. Rushing the passer.**
    The Buccaneers were the NFL's most productive team rushing the passer during the preseason, but injuries along the defensive line have slowed the unit's progress through five games. The Bucs were without defensive ends Jacquies Smith, George Johnson and Robert Ayers, along with defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald, in Week 5. As the injuries have built up, production has slowed; the Bucs' nine sacks so far are tied for the sixth-fewest in the league. After a week of rest, it wouldn't be unusual to see McCoy, McDonald and Ayers return to the lineup. If the Bucs are without all three again, the team could continue to struggle rushing the passer.

3. Leaning on the run game.
Similar to their issues rushing the passer, the Bucs' struggles running the ball have been largely due to injuries. Doug Martin, the NFL's No. 2 rusher a year ago, hasn't played a down since the start of the Bucs' Week 2 matchup with the Cardinals, and last week Charles Sims was placed on injured reserve. Through six weeks, the Buccaneers average 88.6 rushing yards per game, No. 27 in the league. Martin's sights have been set on returning after the bye. If he's back, Tampa Bay could be a completely different offense when they travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers.

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