Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Bucs to Watch Against Detroit

Here a few players to watch as the Bucs go on the road for this last time this season to take on the Lions in Detroit.

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 08, 2019 - Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh #93 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game between the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers won the game, 38-35. Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1. DL Ndamukong Suh

This is the most obvious of players to watch given Suh's history in Detroit. The Nebraska product was drafted by the Lions in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at second overall. He spent the first five years of his career in the motor city, including his rookie season where he earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors after recording 10.0 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, starting all 16 games. In fact, he was voted into the Pro Bowl four of his five seasons with the Lions, earning All-Pro honors three of those years. He may have played there last in 2014, but Suh still remembers the city fondly. It'll be just the second time Suh has faced the Lions since departing the team.

The last time Suh played a former team was in Week 4 against the Rams in Los Angeles. He had his first fumble return for a touchdown that game in addition to two hits on his former quarterback, Jared Goff. Suh won't be facing his former quarterback in Detroit – Matthew Stafford is out with injury, but he could still have a little extra juice going into a familiar place.

2. WR Chris Godwin

The Bucs will be down one Mike Evans on Sunday, marking the first game Evans will miss this season. He suffered a hamstring injury on a 61-yard touchdown catch against the Colts in the first half last Sunday. It will mean that Godwin becomes the Bucs' number one target and how he responds to the attention will be interesting. He's 19 catches shy of reaching 100 on the season and currently has nine touchdown receptions. That's the second-most in the league. He also has the second-most receiving yards of any player behind only New Orleans' Michael Thomas. He'll be looked on to shoulder a lot of the receiving load and keep the Detroit defense occupied, perhaps opening up opportunities for other receivers.

3. WR Scotty Miller

One of those receivers that will get an opportunity due to Evans' absence is rookie Scotty Miller, who returns to the lineup after battling back from a hamstring injury.

"Oh, it's huge, with Mike down, to get some speed back out on the field and to get him going again," Arians said of Miller following practice on Friday. "He was doing well before the injury."

Miller's best game came in the Bucs' home loss to New Orleans in Week 11 where he caught four passes for 71 yards. He has been out of commission since after Week 12 and is still looking for his first NFL touchdown. With a Lions defense worried about Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman, Miller may have an opportunity to get that in Detroit.

4. RB Peyton Barber

Winston threw a football for the first time this week during Friday's practice. He was limited until that point after suffering the aforementioned thumb injury against the Colts. While Winston has had 14 weeks of experience in this new offense, he can still stand to need help on the field come Sunday. One of the ways the Bucs can do that is getting the ground game going. Like, really going. Winston threw for a career-high 456 yards last Sunday, but it also meant he threw the ball 45 times. That's likely not an option with his thumb this week, so the Bucs will need the running game to step up. It's a toss up whether that will come on the heels of Peyton Barber or Ronald Jones. Barber has been more productive in terms of getting into the end zone, scoring six rushing touchdowns this season, but Ronald Jones has been making progress with his hands as of late.  One or both of the backs will have to step up, so it's worth keeping an eye on each of them come Sunday in Detroit as they go against a Lions defense letting up 118.2 yards per game on the ground.

5. DL Rakeem Nuñez-Roches

The Bucs got some unexpected news on Friday with defensive lineman Beau Allen ruled out with an ankle injury suffered in Thursday's practice. Allen has been stout against the run and it'll be up to some of the rotational guys to quite literally fill in. Nuñez-Roches is one of those such guys. The defensive lineman has also earned praise from his coaches over the past few weeks for how solid of a player he is and effective he is against the run. He's an extremely aggressive player, too and I think with maybe some increased snaps, people will start to take notice. Tampa Bay will need their top-ranked run defense against the Lions, who will also be looking for their ground game to step up with backup quarterback David Blough at the helm.

Related Content