-The 12th Annual Turkey Time with the O-line was held yesterday at AdventHealth Training Center. Every member of the Bucs’ offensive line was on hand to help load full Thanksgiving meals (complete with 10-12-pound turkeys) into each family vehicle as they snaked through the parking lot of the new indoor facility. Families were first greeted by the Buc Beat Line, which now appears at every home game. There was also a DJ spinning tunes from a pirate ship (of course) and a special on-location shoot of the Ali and Donovan Show.
The event has grown since its original inception. It was former Bucs offensive linemen Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood that started the event back in 2007, helping a few hundred families at the time. As of 2018, the Bucs were able to provide meals and Publix giftcards to over 1,000 families thanks to a $35,000 donation from the players, which was then matched by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation and sent to Feeding Tampa Bay to provide 350,000 meals for the local community. It was a great way to kick off the holidays and you can read more about it here. Happy Thanksgiving, Bucs fans!
-On some not so cheery news, tight end O.J. Howard was placed on injured reserve yesterday. Howard suffered foot and ankle injuries after an awkward tackle during the Giants game. This move means that both of Howard’s NFL seasons have now ended prematurely. He missed the final two games of the 2017 season with an ankle injury as well.
Howard had already surpassed his total receiving yards from last season through the first 10 games of 2018, amassing 565 yards on 34 receptions. It gave him a 16.6 yards-per-reception average for the second consecutive season. Howard also had five touchdowns of the year, just one shy of his team-leading six last season. He improved his catch percentage to 70.8 percent from 66.7. Plus, both Head Coach Dirk Koetter and Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken had spoken on his improvement as a blocker this season as well.
Not that it makes it any easier to stomach, but Howard was one of the Bucs’ many offensive weapons. It’s not an area they’re lacking depth and in fact, the Bucs’ biggest problem regarding their receivers is how to get the ball to all of them. Fellow tight end Cameron Brate just signed a contract extension with the Bucs this past offseason and now will conceivably carry more of the load. The Bucs also have tight end Antony Auclair and utility man Alan Cross in the wings, ready for their opportunity at some targets. So while no one ever wants to see a dynamic player like Howard go down, the team should be able to pick up the slack pretty easily. With the opening on the roster, the Bucs signed defensive back Josh Shaw to a unit hurting on depth, rather than having to use the spot on another tight end or receiver.
-The Pro Football Hall of Fame Semi-Finalists were announced last night by the league and you’ll notice two familiar faces on there again. Sure enough, it’s former cornerback Ronde Barber and former safety John Lynch up for the honors in 2019. Barber is currently a color analyst with FOX who has come to call more than one Buccaneers game this season already. Lynch is now the General Manager of the San Francisco 49ers, who happen to be coming to town this weekend to face the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium. He may be a 49er now, but pretty sure ‘The Closer’ will come back to warm welcome from Bucs fans anyway, especially as he’s up for the Hall of Fame.