Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Buccaneers to Watch Against Oakland

A few players to keep an eye on when the Bucs host the Raiders in Week 8.

1. DE Robert Ayers
Ayers has been sidelined since Week 2 with an ankle injury, but returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited capacity. Without one of their key offseason acquisitions, the Buccaneers have struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. The team has 13 sacks through seven games, which lands them near the bottom of the league. With rookie Noah Spence battling a shoulder injury and the team losing Jacquies Smith and George Johnson for the season, it would be a significant boost for Ayers to return to the lineup. 

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  1. RB Jacquizz Rodgers**
    Rodgers wasn't with the Buccaneers during training camp and was signed after the start of the regular season. But in Tampa Bay's past two games he's been one of the team's most important, and dominant, players. The Bucs have called Rodgers' number often, handing him the ball 56 times in the past two weeks. He's taken full advantage of the opportunity, rushing for 255 yards during that span. If Doug Martin is unable to play on Sunday, expect the Bucs to continue to lean on Rodgers.

3. WR Russell Shepard
Without Vincent Jackson in the lineup, the Buccaneers rotated in several wide receivers against San Francisco in an attempt to fill the void. Shepard, Cecil Shorts and Freddie Martino all saw a significant number of reps, but it was Shepard, the Bucs' special teams captain, who found himself being targeted the most often. Shepard caught five passes for 77 yards and expects to be a key part of the Bucs' offense when Oakland comes to town.

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  1. DT Gerald McCoy**
    As mentioned above, the Buccaneers have suffered a handful of crucial injuries and, as a result, the team's pass-rush has suffered. McCoy missed one game with a calf injury, but was completely off the Buccaneers' injury report on Wednesday. When fully healthy, McCoy has proven to be one of the league's most dominant interior defensive linemen, particular while rushing the passer.

5. CB Vernon Hargreaves
The clock is ticking on Hargreaves recording his first interception as a pro. The rookie has played more than 95 percent of the Buccaneers' defensive snaps and has been a solid contributor through the team's first six games. Hargreaves has yet to record a pick, though. The Buccaneers have had success taking the football away, recording seven turnovers in their past two games. Keep an eye on Hargreaves to record one against an impressive Oakland passing attack.

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