Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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5 Bucs to Watch Against Houston

Here are a few players to watch out for as the Bucs take on the Houston Texans at home amid a rash of injuries to the receiver corps.

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1. TE Cameron Brate

Brate has the longest rapport with Winston of any possible pass catchers this Saturday. While Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich said he doesn't want to force anything to any one receiver based on experience. But I do think that Winston will have an eye out for a consistent and reliable target that he's familiar with. Brate didn't get much action in Detroit but just watch when the Bucs get inside the red zone on Saturday. Have a feeling that might change.

2. ILB Lavonte David

The Texans' offense presents a plethora of problems, starting with the guy under center in Deshaun Watson. He's as mobile as they come. Russell Wilson Jr./2.0/whatever you want to call it. Watson, coupled with the Houston run game, will test David. Watson has the fourth-most rushing yards among qualified passers with 376. Not that David can't handle it – especially with the ever-emerging rookie Devin White by his side. David will have to use his lateral and coverage skills to keep tabs on Watson.

Running back Carlos Hyde has been limited in practice this week and is officially listed as questionable, so that could potentially mean he's not as effective. But straight ground game, the front seven has it covered. The difference in this ball game will be how effective Watson is able to be and David can have a big say in that.

3. CB Sean Murphy-Bunting

This rookie continues to turn in improved performances week after week. He's tied for the most interceptions by a rookie this season with three. His last one came in Detroit and was a pick-six in front of over 40 members of his family and friends. The first of his career – ever. He never had one in college. The young members of the Bucs' secondary have come on strong during the last few weeks.

Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles had this to say about his young players:

"I think it's good for a confidence level for a young player especially. We're nowhere near where we want to be yet, but those guys are making plays and they're understanding the system. The game has slowed down for them, so as the game slows down and they get more reps you want to see those type of plays come out, and they've been making some."

The Bucs have the most passes defensed of any team in the league with 84, currently. So I could pretty much plug in any of the main three between Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards. We're going to go with Murphy-Bunting because of the day he had in his hometown last week with the thought that momentum will carry him into this game.

4. WR Ishmael Hyman

With wide receivers Mike Evans and Scotty Miller on Injured Reserve and Chris Godwin and Tanner Hudson sidelined with injuries keeping them out of Saturday's game, the Bucs' receiver corps is going to look a lot different. Guys like Hyman, who got his first taste of NFL action in Detroit, will need to step up and could play pivotal roles. Tampa Bay will have other new faces out there, too, with both Cyril Grayson, Spencer Schnell and Codey McElroy being bumped to the active roster. Schnell was with the team in training camp, if the Illinois State-product's name sounds familiar to you.

But Hyman has been a scout team standout this season in practice. It'll be interesting to see what he can do as he'll likely get some significant work alongside receivers Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson. Also, these guys may have a familiar face on the other side of the line as cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, now with Houston, makes his return to Tampa.

5. C Ryan Jensen

I missed the much talked about play in real-time last week and you probably did, too. For that reason, I'm keeping an eye on the fiery center this time around.

View some of the top photos from the Buccaneers' Week 16 practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.

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