The Buccaneers won’t have a game this Sunday. After returning from London, England, and traveling the two weeks prior to that, Tampa Bay gets a much-needed week of rest to recuperate and get readjusted to the eastern time zone.
Just because the players are out of the building, doesn’t mean it was necessarily quiet at AdventHealth Training Center. The Bucs made a flurry of roster moves this week that included reconfiguring the practice squad and shuffling two active roster spots. Both wide receiver and punt returner Bobo Wilson and linebacker Devante Bond were released from the team. Both were drafted by the Buccaneers, but both had struggled this season. The move with Wilson was relatively expected with Head Coach Bruce Arians saying his main concern personnel-wise during the bye week was indeed punt returner.
"The biggest thing right now would be just punt returner,” Arians said. “It’s not as much the muffs as it is the lack of production.”
Wilson was used primarily on special teams as a kick return man but had struggled in production this season. Bond had made the switch to outside linebacker from the inside in the hope that he could aid the pass rush like he did in college at Oklahoma. Tampa Bay filled one of the roster spots by promoting wide receiver Amara Darboh.
Other news to come out this week was the return of outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul to the practice field. Because of the bye week, the team didn’t have any official practices on the schedule so instead, a special practice was created exclusively for Pierre-Paul.
"He’ll have pads on, going one-on-one with a couple offensive linemen who will stay – practice squad guys – and he’ll practice tomorrow and Wednesday,” said Arians.
Pierre-Paul suffered a neck injury this past May in a car accident and had been in a neck brace for the better part of the last few months. He had returned to working out over the past few weeks and was cleared by doctors to start practicing. As such, the Bucs activated the 21-day practice window for Pierre-Paul, meaning he’s eligible to promoted to the active roster any time over the next 21 days.
As for the rest of the team, Arians just hopes it gives his players some much-needed rest after an already rigorous travel schedule that will resume following the bye with a trip to Tennessee to take on the Titans and then another west coast journey to face the Seahawks in Seattle.
"I think the Bye Week helps a bunch of us,” Arians said. “This travel has been tough. We need the rest because we’ve got two more [road games in a row] – and one long trip again – against really good football teams. So, yeah, we needed this right now."
With the Bucs dropping their last two games, Arians was also asked about the importance of their next game against Tennessee, who has had their own set of struggles this season, with a matching 2-4 record to Tampa Bay. However, when asked if it was a ‘must-win,’ Arians was reassuring, pointing to the fact that there is still a lot of football to be played.
"It’s still too early for must-wins,” he said. “We need to win, but I don’t use that term, ‘must-win’ very often. Just like everybody else, we’ll have our game plan set ready to go, take a little time off and come back ready to go.”
So what was the last thing Arians said to the team before they went their separate ways on how to get ready to go?
"Learn how to prepare better. We’re still making way too many mental errors in critical situations.”