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
- C: Robert Hainsey, Nick Leverett
- RG: Shaq Mason, Brandon Walton
- RT: Tristan Wirfs, Fred Johnson
- 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
With Josh Wells returning from the injured reserve list last week, the Buccaneers moved a couple names around on the depth chart. Wells returned to his usual spot as the second man listed at left tackle behind starter Donovan Smith. After both Smith and Wells had suffered injuries in the first two games of the season, Brandon Walton started the Buccaneers Week Three contest against Green Bay and he was moved on the depth chart to the spot behind Smith. With Wells back, Walton returns to the second spot behind Shaq Mason at right guard.
Walton, Wells and Nick Leverett were the three active O-Line reserves in Week Seven, with Fred Johnson named inactive. Wells logged one play on offense in a jumbo package while Walton did not appear in the game. Leverett saw his first action of the season on the offensive line, alternating stretches of the game at left guard with Luke Goedeke and playing 20 snaps. Head Coach Todd Bowles said on Monday that Goedeke would start on Thursday if his foot injury permits but that Leverett would also play in the game. Goedeke did not practice on Monday.
Veteran tight end Cameron Brate didn't play in Charlotte due to his neck injury, which gave fellow vet Kyle Rudolph an opportunity to be active for the game. Rudolph recorded his second reception of season but only saw eight total snaps on offense. He was out-snapped by both rookie tight ends, Cade Otton (54) and Ko Kieft (18), and Otton produced four catches for 64 yards.
Russell Gage played 41 of the 67 offensive snaps, mostly in three-receiver sets, but left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury. That created a bit more playing time for wideouts Breshad Perriman and Scotty Miller. Perriman and Miller each only played two snaps in Week Six at Pittsburgh but got 10 and eight, respectively, this past Sunday.
- 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, K.J. Britt, Kenny Young
- ILB: Lavonte David, Olakunle Fatukasi
- OLB: Shaquil Barrett, 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
With both Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting sidelined by injuries, rookie cornerback Zyon McCollum drew his first NFL start opposite Jamel Dean. After being inactive for the first four games, McCollum saw just 13 defensive snaps in Weeks Five and Six while being heavily involved on special teams. In Week Seven he was on the field for all 50 defensive plays, producing four tackles.
Pro Bowl safety Antoine Winfield Jr. was out for the Panthers' final 22 offensive plays after sustaining a concussion on a tackle for loss in the third quarter. Those were the first defensive snaps Winfield has missed all season, though he is also expected to sit out Thursday night's game. After he was sent to the locker room, Dee Delaney came in and took over his role in the slot in sub packages. After playing much of last week's game as a safety in sub packages with Mike Edwards out, Delaney was on the field for 11 defensive snaps in Charlotte.
Defensive lineman Vita Vea saw his second-highest single-game snap percentage of the season, but probably because the Panthers only ran 50 plays. He was on the field for 70% of them, but the total snap count of 35 was his lowest in a game this year. Vea accounted for the Buccaneers' only sack of the game and now leads the team in that category with 3.5.
The Buccaneers continue to use their top four outside linebackers in mutually-exclusive packages. Shaquil Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka start and get the largest shares of the OLB rotation, with Anthony Nelson and Carl Nassib coming in as a package to spell them. Barrett actually got his second-lowest snap percentage of the season, at 64% (32 of 50). The fifth man at the position, Genard Avery, logged three snaps.
- 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
The busiest men on special teams for the Bucs in Sunday's game were K.J. Britt and Patrick O'Connor, both of whom were on the field for 71% of the snaps. Delaney still played 67% of the snaps even though he picked up extra work on defense along the way. Avery and tight end Ko Kieft also played 67% of the special teams snaps.
For obviously unfortunate reasons, placekicker Ryan Succop played a season-low one snap on Sunday. Cornerback Anthony Chesley, elevated from the practice squad for the game, got in on five special teams snaps before being knocked out of the game by a hamstring injury.