The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will likely be debuting a new right side on their offensive line next Sunday in London, thanks to injuries suffered by Demar Dotson and Alex Cappa in their Week Five loss at New Orleans. That's obviously a significant storyline against a Carolina Panthers team that ranks fourth in the NFL in sacks per pass play.
Dotson strained a hamstring in the second half of Sunday's game, which led to Josh Wells coming into the game for eight offensive snaps at right tackle. Meanwhile, Alex Cappa sustained a fracture in his left arm in the first half, though he did not miss any plays. On Monday, Head Coach Bruce Arians made it clear neither is likely to suit up in Tottenham Stadium in Week Six.
"I doubt [Dotson] plays this week; we’ll see," said Arians. "Josh Wells will go in there. I do have to commend Alex Cappa – he broke his arm in the second quarter [and] played the entire game. He’ll miss a few weeks. But it’s next-man-up – you can’t make excuses, so we’ll have a new right side of our line probably this week."
Veteran guard Earl Watford, who signed this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, is expected to step in for Cappa at right guard, between Wells and center Ryan Jensen, who has been playing through a back ailment. It will be the first start as a Buccaneer for both Watford and Wells, the latter of whom was signed a month ago after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of the preseason. Left tackle Donovan Smith and left guard Ali Marpet would maintain some continuity on the other end of the line.
Watford has 22 NFL starts spread across three positions (left and right guard and right tackle) and he has experience in the Buccaneers' offense from his four years under Arians in Arizona (2014-17). Wells started nine games over the last two seasons in Jacksonville, with five at right tackle and four at left tackle. His final two starts last season for the Jaguars were at right tackle.
After turning its best performance of the season in a 55-40 win over the Rams in Los Angeles in Week Four, the Bucs' offensive line allowed a season-high six sacks of Jameis Winston this past Sunday. Four of those came in the fourth quarter and the Dotson and Cappa injuries likely were a factor in that downturn. Now the Buccaneers will be looking to Watford and Wells to step up and help the line get back on track against a Panthers' defense that has created 20 sacks through five games, the second most in the NFL.