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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pregame Report: Welcome Homecoming

The Bucs' 2016 home opener gives the team a chance to get back on track, though they'll have to do it without such important contributors as Robert Ayers, Doug Martin and Luke Stocker.

Pictures of the Rams' starting offense and defense, according to the team's depth chart.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned the page on their Week Two loss in Arizona much earlier in the week. On Sunday, with the Los Angeles Rams visiting for Tampa Bay's 2016 home opener, the Bucs will look to write a completely new chapter to the young season.

"Every week's a new week in the NFL. It's a week-to-week league," said Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter. "Obviously, we didn't put our best foot forward last week in Arizona, and we addressed it. The players have been talking about it all week, the coaches, we're anxious to get out there in front of the home crowd. Can't wait to start a new streak.

"When you lose a game, especially when you lose a game like we did, the worst thing you can do is let that game carry over for the whole week. You've got to learn your lessons and you've got to move on – that's all you can do."

As sometimes happens in the NFL, the previous week's game does have a lingering effect on the current outing, thanks to unwanted injuries. In the Buccaneers' case, they will have to play without three key starters – RB Doug Martin, DE Robert Ayers and TE Luke Stocker – as well as wide receiver/kick returner Cecil Shorts. All were injured last Sunday in Arizona.

"Doug will be out for the game, so we'll have a rotation with Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers," said Koetter. "They'll be fine. And then Peyton Barber will be in reserve if we need him, so we'll have the same number of backs. Of course when you lose a player like Doug, of his status, it's going to have an effect on your team and on your game plan, but no one's feeling sorry for us. There are other teams that have issues, and the next guy has to step up and we have to do our jobs."

Before Martin's injury, it looked like Week Three would bring a matchup of two of the NFL's most productive backs in 2015, as the Rams are bringing the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, RB Todd Gurley, to Raymond James Stadium. Gurley has averaged just 49.0 yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season but undoubtedly poses a serious challenge for the Buccaneers' defense.

"You have to tackle, because this guy's powerful," said Koetter of Gurley. "He has the ability to break tackles, run through tackles and then he also has enough speed to go the distance. So you've got to get guys to the ball and we've got to gang-tackle him and get him on the ground."

Tampa Bay's defense has been fairly good against the run in the early going, allowing only 78.5 yards per game so far, and just 3.0 yards per carry. The Bucs will likely have to make their big defensive plays in the ground game on Sunday because the Rams have generally stressed that part of their offense over QB Case Keenum's downfield passing. Keenum has been sacked five times in two games but generally gets rid of the ball quickly.

"It's tough to think you're going to get 10 sacks in this game because they're not going to let you by design," said Koetter. "They're going to max-protect, and Keenum plays to his strengths like all quarterbacks should. He knows that he's got to get it out of his hand, and he does a good job of that."

In addition to the four aforementioned injured players, the Buccaneers also designated QB Ryan Griffin, G Caleb Benenoch and T Leonard Wester as inactive for Sunday's game. Rookie DE DaVonte Lambert is expected to make his first start a week after his NFL debut, filling in at right end for Ayers. That allows the team to continue to use rookie DE Noah Spence as a designated pass rusher.

The Rams declared the following players inactive: WR Pharoh Cooper, QB Sean Mannion, CB E.J. Gaines, T Pace Murphy, TE Temarrick Hemingway, WR Nelson Spruce and DE Matt Longacre.

The Buccaneers take on the Rams in their 2016 home opener on Sunday afternoon, with kickoff scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium. The game will be broadcast locally by FOX and on radio through the Buccaneers Radio Network and its flagship station, US 103.5 FM.

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