1. LB Lavonte David
We've been talking all week about linebacker Lavonte David and the impact he continues to have on the Bucs defense. He recovered his fourth fumble of the season, after linebacker Kwon Alexander stripped the Jets' Bilal Powell of the ball in the third quarter. Those four fumble recoveries are the most of any player in the league this season. Despite ranking 31st in total offense, the Dolphins are ninth in sacks allowed, only allowing 17.0 all year. With the awakening of the Buccaneers' pass rush last weekend against New York, look for that number to increase and David to seek out opportunities to nab his first sack of the season.
2. TE Cam Brate
Buccaneers' tight end Cam Brate had it a little tougher last week against the Jets. New York's defense elected to double-team him on a few instances within the red zone in the absence of wide receiver Mike Evans. The good news is this week, not only is Evans back, but Miami's 31st- ranked defense has allowed some significant performances by tight ends- just ask Oakland's Jared Cook. The Raiders' tight end put up 126 yards on eight catches against the Dolphins in Week Nine. With Miami's secondary having to turn their attention to receivers Evans and DeSean Jackson, that should open up some opportunities for Brate or perhaps, O.J. Howard, to get back into the end zone.
Pictures of some of the Dolphins' top players.
- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick**
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's first start as a Buccaneer was a win, but that doesn't mean he was necessarily happy with his performance. He acknowledged he still has things to work on this week and areas to improve upon as he goes into his second consecutive start. If the New York Jets, where Fitzpatrick spent the last two seasons as the primary signal caller, were familiar, the former division-foe Miami Dolphins aren't far behind on the familiarity scale. Fitzpatrick has played the Dolphins 10 times and has a 5-5 record against them. That's the same as the all-time series between the Bucs and Dolphins, with the 10-game series tied at five wins apiece. Number 14 has the opportunity to tilt both his record and the Bucs' record in Tampa Bay's favor on Sunday.
4. WR Mike Evans
This will be wide receiver Mike Evans first game with Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback. Evans isn't worried about the transition. He recognizes that, as would be with any quarterback, Fitz's spin on the ball is different than Winston's. However, he's gotten accustomed to it over the past few weeks with Fitzpatrick taking a significant amount of snaps with the ones as Winston battled his shoulder injury, even before taking over the starting role. Evans identified a few things about the Miami defense, including their preference of zone over man coverage, that would allow Evans a few more opportunities for big plays, should he and the Bucs be able to beat it. Evans has been ready to go and ready to run, looking great in practice all week. It will just be a matter translating that energy into the game on Sunday.
5. CB Brent Grimes
This will be cornerback Brent Grimes' first opportunity to play against his former Miami Dolphins team in the regular season, where he played for three seasons prior to joining the Bucs. Grimes had a ridiculous interception grab in Sunday's contest against the Jets. Grimes has 19 interceptions since 2013, his first season with the Dolphins. That number is good for second-most in the league in that time period, second only to the Seahawks' Richard Sherman. He ranks fifth among active players in interceptions with 32. It seems to be a matter of when - and not if - Grimes will come up with a similarly explosive play against his former team.