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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Bucs to Watch Against New Orleans

Here are a few players to watch in the Bucs' rematch with the division-rival New Orleans Saints at home this Sunday in Raymond James Stadium.


1. WR Mike Evans

He was on this list last week and he makes it again for pretty much the exact same reason. Now, Evans needs just 76 more yards to register 1,000 for the season. And that's impressive in its own right just 10 games into the season. But if you hadn't heard yet, it would give him his sixth-consecutive 1,000-yard to start his career. Former wide receiver Randy Moss is the only other player in NFL history to have done the same thing.

Conditions are pretty good for Evans to get those 76 yards and possible more on Sunday. The last time the two teams met, Evans was held without a catch. That hadn't happened since Week One of the 2015 season… also against the Saints. Rest assured, Evans won't be letting that happen again and neither will his teammates. New Orleans' cornerback Marshon Lattimore has also been ruled out for the rematch. Lattimore and Evans have gone back and forth throughout the years, each one taking turns getting the better of the other. This time, though, Evans should be freed up a little more without Lattimore on the field.

I'd say 76 yards are pretty feasible this game and I'd hate to miss the moment it happens, so keep an eye on Evans.

2. RB Ronald Jones

Jones has been on a steady incline and that was no exception against the Cardinals. The running back caught eight passes for 77 yards and added 29 more yards on the ground, giving him 106 total yards from scrimmage. The 77 yards were a career high through the air and proved how far Jones has come for the rookie he was just a year ago. It showed how effective he can be in the screen game and him coupled with wide receiver Chris Godwin in that regard can really help quarterback Jameis Winston out.

Winston and the Bucs' offensive line is going to be facing an extremely physical front seven and the quicker Winston can get the ball out – the better. Jones provides a viable option even through the air so I'd look for him to continue his upward trend at home.

3. S Mike Edwards

He's another repeat on this list but with all the shakeups in the secondary this week, I really am looking for Edwards to step up along with his first-year counterparts. The Saints probably aren't going to be running the ball a whole lot, the Bucs still own the best run defense in the league. Plus, with a receiver like Michael Thomas who leads the league in receiving yards, they're going to take their fair share of shots. With all the extra work the defensive backs have put in this week, I think Edwards can start to anticipate more and maybe get back to his ball-hawking abilities he was known for in college.

Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepted Teddy Bridgewater in New Orleans during Week Five. Now, I'm speaking into existence another rookie interception against the Saints, even if it is Brees this time around.

4. DT Vita Vea

While it was said with wry smiles by both Head Coach Bruce Arians and Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich wouldn't rule out more appearances by the 347-pound defensive tackle on offense like we saw last week at the end of the game. There was even route-running tossed around.

On defense though, the Saints are going to be without guard Andrus Peat on the interior of their offensive line, which could make things easier for both Vea and Ndamukong Suh to break through and get to Brees.

Either way, keep your eye on the big man. He's hard to miss.

5. OLB Shaq Barrett

Both Anthony Nelson and Carl Nassib will miss Sunday's game with their respective injuries so Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul will have to hold down the pass rush, most likely. Barrett has been steady in his production after getting off to a fast start. He was held without a sack last time the Bucs faced New Orleans – but he didn't have JPP on the other side for offensive lines to worry about.

After another game immediately following New Orleans where he was held without a sack, Barrett has now been involved in a sack in each game since JPP's return against Tennessee. Getting a sack on Brees isn't the easiest thing to do. Brees gets the ball out from his hands quickly and is a quick decision maker. But Barrett is quick, too. We'll see how much of an impact Barrett will be able to have, especially if Vea and Suh are able to get pressure from the interior, too.

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