Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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5 Bucs to Watch Against New York

All eyes will be on the Buccaneers in their Monday night matchup at home against the New York Giants but here are a few players to keep an eye on specifically if you’re a Bucs fan.

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1. OLB Jason Pierre-Paul

This is the most obvious player you need to keep an eye for the sole fact that it will be just his third time going against his former team. The coaching staff may be different and there may have been a ton of roster turnover since Pierre-Paul donned the blue and white, but this was a franchise he won a Super Bowl with, too, and he seems to have a little extra juice when he faces them.

In the two meetings he's had with New York as a member of the Bucs' Pierre-Paul has recorded 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, 14 total tackles and three tackles for loss. Despite still dealing with a torn rotator cuff and broken finger, Pierre-Paul returned to the practice field this week. Seems that extra energy he has to show his former team what they traded away started well before Monday night.

2. WR Mike Evans

Speaking of players that seem to have some extra juice against the Giants, Evans is weirdly one of them. He's averaged 116.4 receiving yards per game in five meetings with New York. Those have come with six total receiving touchdowns, an 18.2 yards per reception average and 25 first downs. That's wild.

Evans has also had success on Monday night. In five MNF appearances, Evans has scored a touchdown in each. And if he does end up with that touchdown this coming Monday night, he will surpass Mike Alstott for the franchise touchdown record. The two are tied at 71, currently. League-wide, Evans has the second-most receiving touchdowns of any player with nine so far this season. That's just one behind Rams' wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

In his quest for production, Evans will likely face off again with Giants cornerback James Bradberry. That's relatively good news because according to PFF, Bradberry is tied for the third-most touchdowns allowed among cornerbacks this season. Meanwhile, Evans is the most productive outside receiver in the league, catching eight touchdowns when aligned wide this year, according to Next Gen Stats. He's tied for the second-most receiving touchdowns on targets of more than 10 air yards and manages an average of 2.7 yards of separation per target of over 10 air yards, which is the fifth-best among any player with a minimum of 30 targets.

At the same time, he has been one of the best tight-window receivers in the league this season, catching five touchdowns on tight window throws, per NGS.

That'll be the quite the matchup to watch, to say the least.

3. OLB Shaq Barrett

Barrett said this week that he isn't satisfied with how he's playing so far this season. He still leads the team with 5.5 sacks but would like to see himself and his defensive counterparts get to the quarterback more. He may have the opportunity to do that against the Giants, who he has also done well against. In three regular season matchups against New York, Barrett has 5.0 sacks, seven quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and four tackles for loss. The last time he played them at home as a member of the Bucs, in fact, he had 4.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and three tackles for loss. I wouldn't complain seeing another performance like that on Monday under the primetime lights.

That being said, with Vita Vea officially listed as doubtful and even Rakeem Nuñez-Roches designated as questionable, Barrett may not enjoy as many one-on-one matchups as he would otherwise. That interior rotation of the defensive line is paramount to edge success. But Barrett talked this week about getting after the quarterback and if they do, the rest should take of itself. That could start with Barrett.

4. ILB Devin White

Giants' quarterback Daniel Jones can be a little slippery, though. He may not be a full-on dual-threat quarterback but he can extend plays with his legs no problem. He had a season-high 95 rushing yards on nine attempts against Washington in Week Two. He even caught a 16-yard pass against Carolina at home in Week Seven. Seems between Jones and Giants Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett, the pair have some tricks up their sleeves.

It could fall on White to help mitigate any of the impact those tricks could have on the game. The Bucs have made a habit of deploying some type of spy for mobile quarterbacks this season and I wouldn't be surprised if White was tapped to pay special attention to Jones this game. Plus, White is coming off a Washington game that saw him make 18 combined tackles and sack the quarterback twice. That's something White likes to do, too. So let him keep doing it.

5. TE Rob Gronkowski

Gronkowski attempted a return before the bye week in New Orleans but it didn't quite work out. However, Monday night could see the return of a man who fractured multiple ribs and suffered a punctured lung in Week Three. Gronkowski and Arians both said 'the arrow is pointing up' on Gronkowski playing Monday night and you have to think quarterback Tom Brady will welcome him back with open arms and perhaps the Giants will allow him some open targets. I know I'm not alone in wanting to see a Gronk Spike underneath the lights and we could potentially see that happen this week.

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

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