Each week during the regular season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' communications department publishes a "Game Release" to aid the media in coverage of their upcoming game. Included in that release are a number of documents regarding the player roster, including a depth chart, which lists the pecking order at every position on offense, defense and special teams.
Each week, we will be taking a closer look at that depth chart, pointing out any changes or relevant notes from the previous game. Let's start on offense. Players we will be discussing in depth are highlighted in bold text.
- WR: Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Jaelon Darden
- WR: Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman
- LT: Donovan Smith, Josh Wells
- LG: Luke Goedeke, Nick Leverett
- C: Robert Hainsey, John Molchon
- RG: Shaq Mason, Brandon Walton
- RT: Tristan Wirfs
- TE: Cameron Brate, Cade Otton, Kyle Rudolph, Ko Kieft
- WR: Russell Gage, Scotty Miller
- QB: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask
- RB: Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White, Ke'Shawn Vaughn
Thanks mostly to a string of injuries, the Buccaneers haven't really established a third pass-catcher in "11" personnel yet. That role appeared to be earmarked for free agency addition Russell Gage, but Gage has struggled with a hamstring ailment for much of the season and has missed the last two games. Julio Jones was the clear choice for that role in Week Eight against Baltimore, playing 57% of the offensive reps, but in Week Nine he was out-snapped by Scotty Miller. Miller was on the field for 35 snaps, or 42% of the total, compared to 30 for Jones, and was a key contributor on the last two drives. He finished the game with a season-high seven catches for 53 yards.
"I think it changes each game – whether it's running back by committee that has the catches, whether it's Julio, whether it's Gage, whether it's Scotty, sometimes it's [Breshad] Perriman," said Head Coach Todd Bowles of the primary third man in the Bucs' passing attack. "I don't think we have a solidified third catcher as of right now with Julio having been in and out of the lineup, but I think guys are stepping in and making plays, and kind of as a group slowly forming that aspect of it."
Rookie tight end Cade Otton continued to establish himself as a core piece of the Buccaneers' 2022 offense, playing 85% of the offensive snaps and leading the team with 68 yards on five catches, one of which was the game-winning one-yard touchdown with nine seconds to play. Fellow rookie tight end Ko Kieft started for the third game in a row in a two-TE set and logged a total of 17 offensive snaps.
Third-year running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn got his first action on offense this season. He was on the field for three snaps and was the focal skill-position player on all of them, with two carries for four yards and one target on an incomplete pass. Rookie Rachaad White got a greater split in the backfield than in previous weeks, as he got 29 snaps to Leonard Fournette's 52.
After promoting lineman John Molchon from the practice squad last week, the Buccaneers slotted him on the depth chart at the second spot behind center Robert Hainsey.
- DL: Akiem Hicks, Pat O'Connor
- NT: Vita Vea, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Deadrin Senat
- DL: William Gholston, Logan Hall
- OLB: Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Carl Nassib
- ILB: Devin White, J.J. Russell
- ILB: Lavonte David, Olakunle Fatukasi
- OLB: Anthony Nelson, Genard Avery
- CB: Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting
- CB: Carlton Davis, Zyon McCollum
- S: Antoine Winfield Jr., Dee Delaney
- S: Mike Edwards, Keanu Neal, Nolan Turner
In the Bucs' first game without top pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett, out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury, fourth-year player Anthony Nelson stepped into the starting lineup and playing 30 snaps, or 53% of the total. That was an increase from the roughly 30% usage he had been seeing but not quite to the level of what Barrett had been absorbing before his injury. The edge rusher who saw his snaps increase most significantly was fellow starter Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, who was on the field for a season-high 89% of the snaps. Tryon-Shoyinka had a sack erased by a penalty but also contributed a quarterback hit and a pass defensed.
Cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis returned from injuries, and just in time to face a Rams offense that operates almost exclusively out of three-receiver sets. Murphy-Bunting played in the slot with Antoine Winfield Jr. out with a concussion and played 54 of a possible 57 defensive snaps. Davis missed just one snap after being shaken up at one point, and cornerback Jamel Dean was on the field for every defensive play.
Up front, interior lineman Akiem Hicks returned after a six-game absence due to a foot injury and started the game, eventually playing 33 snaps (61% of the total), just two fewer than starting nose tackle Vita Vea. Bowles said the return of Hicks provided a boost for Vea, who had two of the team's four sacks and now has a career-best 6.5 on the season.
"It helped him a lot," said Bowles. "We've got two big guys in there, so you have to pick and choose who you double. Hicks' presence allows other people to get free to make up for some of the things that Shaq did when he was in there."
The Bucs also promoted rookie inside linebacker J.J. Russell from the practice squad last week to restore their depth at the position to four players. Russell is slotted behind starter Devin White.
- P: Jake Camarda
- PK: Ryan Succop
- KO: Jake Camarda
- H: Jake Camarda
- LS: Zach Triner
- PR: Jaelon Darden, Scotty Miller
- KR: Rachaad White, Jaelon Darden
Wideout Jaelon Darden didn't log any plays on offense but had a big day in the return game, bringing back eight punts for 82 yards. Rookie inside linebacker J.J. Russell, just promoted to the active roster from the practice squad, stepped immediately into a massive special teams role, playing 28 of the team's 33 kick-and-coverage snaps to tie rookie cornerback Zyon McCollum for the highest total. The offensive player who was busiest on special teams was Kieft, who took part in 25 of the 33 snaps.