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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Bucs to Watch Against Philadelphia

Here are a few players and positions to watch for as the Bucs are back on primetime on Thursday Night Football.


The Buccaneers get set for the primetime spotlight again as they get set to play their second game in four days when they visit the Eagles in Philadelphia for Thursday Night Football.

While all eyes will be on the game, there are some individual players and units that could have opportunities against this so-far inconsistent Eagles team.

Let's take a look at a few.

1. WR Mike Evans

Will Evans follow up his 113-yard, two-touchdown performance against Miami with yet another productive one that should make fantasy heads happy this week? Well, his past performances against Philly suggests he could. He's faced the Philadelphia Eagles twice in his career and he has 14 receptions with nine of them accounting for first downs in those games. It also includes two touchdowns and a 73-yard per game average.

With how much Evans is utilized in the red zone, he doesn't necessarily need a huge yardage total – or all of the offensive snaps – to be productive on the scoreboard. Last game at home against Miami, Evans played 78% of the team's offensive snaps. In the last game he had two touchdowns in, Week Two against Atlanta, he played just 73% of the team's offensive snaps and had 75 yards. He's an extraordinarily efficient receiver that could have another big night despite Philly's third-ranked passing defense.

2. OLB Jason Pierre-Paul

While Evans has played just two games against the Eagles in his career, Pierre-Paul, as a former member of the NFC East, has faced Philly 15 times. In those games, he's amassed 6.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hits, eight passes defensed and 13 tackles for loss. Pierre-Paul said this week he felt that Philly was the Giants' biggest rival when he was in New York and that playing the Eagles was always a fight. Now that he's back and healthy enough to play, clubbed hand and all, he may be the most ready for the fight of anyone on this roster.

3. RB Leonard Fournette

The Bucs have an opportunity against this Philadelphia defense. Where the Eagles rank third against the pass, they rank 30th against the run. They're letting up an average of 142.0 yards per game on the ground. That's good news for what seems to be a bolstered Bucs rushing attack as of late.

Tampa Bay is coming off of two straight games with over 100 yards on the ground and Fournette has been a big part of that. The second-year Buccaneer went over 100 all-purpose yards against the Dolphins and added a rushing touchdown to boot. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry on Sunday after averaging 4.6 yards per carry against a tough New England defense the week before. He led the way there with 92 rushing yards to help the Bucs get to 120 on the night.

Each game the Bucs have gone over 100 yards on the ground, it's allowed them to absolute dominate the time of possession battle. It also keeps the defense off the field, which allows them to stay aggressive on opposing quarterbacks and in the pass rush. They'll need that in order to contain Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles said Tuesday is a guy 'who keeps you honest' and someone who can beat you with his arm and his legs.

4. ILB Devin White

Because of that, White may be tasked with a lot when it comes to the quarterback this game. White has been involved in the pass rush already this year but now he may have to apply his capabilities against the run to the opposing quarterback. Not to mention, the Eagles have a couple good backs and an offensive line that according to NFL Next Gen Stats is paving the way for 5.1 expected yards per carry, which is the most in the NFL.

Not to mention, White will be without his partner in crime, Lavonte David, who suffered an ankle sprain against the Dolphins. Inside linebacker Kevin Minter will step in and is more than capable. Minter definitely knows this defense just as well. Either way, with the Eagles' screen game and the elusiveness of Jalen Hurts, that middle level of the field is going to get a lot of work. That starts with White.

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

5. Bucs O-line

There are a couple positional matchups I see in this game as being important. Bucs skill players against the Eagles' secondary is one of them, for sure. But I also want to look to the trenches. The Bucs' defense has an opportunity against an ailing Eagles offensive line but the Philly defensive front is going to be one to contend with for the Bucs' o-line. The Eagles have tallied 11.0 sacks on the season, which ranks them just outside the top 10 league-wide.

More than that will be the opportunity we talked about above with the Eagles' struggles against the run. I mentioned earlier that the Eagles o-line has the highest rushing yards per carry average at 5.1. Want to know who's second? That's right. The Bucs. They have an expected yards per carry average of 4.9 thanks in large part to this offensive unit and they could pad that average pretty easily against the 30th ranked rushing defense. So let's see if they can.

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