-Head Coach Bruce Arians started off his Wednesday press conference predictably addressing the rash of injuries the Buccaneers are dealing with, particularly in the secondary.
"Hopefully, Jamel Dean will be back," he said. "We'll see what he can do today. Richard [Sherman] will have another week under his belt, Pierre [Desir and] everybody else, Mike [Edwards] and Jordan [Whitehead] will start at safety if Antoine [Winfield] can't come back. We'll just see how the week plays out, but we have enough guys. We'll be more than ready."
Dean did, in fact, practice in a limited capacity Wednesday according to the team's estimated practice report. Two players that did not were fellow corners Carlton Davis, who suffered a quad injury on Sunday night's game in New England, and Sean Murphy-Bunting, who continues his stay on injured reserve.
"The two that are Sean [Murphy-Bunting] and Carlton [Davis III], I don't see either one of them coming back anytime soon," Arians said. "I'm fine with the other guys we have."
-Davis going down in the game when the Bucs were already without Dean and Murphy-Bunting meant a newcomer got a lot more work than he bargained for against the Patriots. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman signed with the team on Wednesday and joked that he spent more time on airplanes this past week than actually on the practice field. Considering he made the trip from his home in Seattle to Tampa and then flew with the team to New England and back, he may not be exaggerating. Sherman knew he'd be dressing by 'Friday or Saturday' with the potential to start, he said today, but didn't know he'd be starting for sure until Saturday night. And as far as playing the entire game, taking just one snap off, Sherman didn't realize he'd be out there without any sort of rotation until the second half of the game itself.
That's quite the ask of someone who is still trying to learn Todd Bowles' language. But he had a little bit of help.
"T.B. (Todd Bowles) has a lot of variety in his packages and what he likes out of his corners, corners over and the movement of the disguises and things like that," Sherman said. "It did take a second. It took a lot of hours of just going back and forth. A lot of questions that may have been dumb for other guys to ask, but I didn't know. Even throughout the process of the week, there would be checks. It's just human nature to assume [we all knew what's going on] because we're in the season. It's not like you're doing installs anymore. They'd be like, 'Oh yeah, we just make this check, this check and this check.' I'd be like, 'Hey, uh, what does that mean exactly? So, I've got him? Okay, perfect. Sorry.' It was just a lot of extra time. Shout out to Kevin Ross, the corners coach – he did a great job taking his time and explaining things. Shout out to the safeties 'Twon' (Antoine Winfield Jr.) and 'J.White' (Jordan Whitehead) and Mike [Edwards] – they made sure they signaled throughout the game and communicated. The linebackers – Devin [White] and Lavonte [David] – they did a great job of communicating. It was comfortable out there. It wasn't like you're like panicked. I felt like I could look around, meet eyes with someone and they'd be like, 'Hey, we're in this,' and we'd deal with it."
-And while the secondary was figuring things out on the back end, the front seven did all they could to help them out up front. That came in the form of an improved pass rush, where the Bucs managed four sacks on Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.
"It felt good to get out there and play the way we're supposed to be playing the whole time," outside linebacker Shaq Barrett said. "Just getting that footage out there on tape that we can pass rush and that we're not gone. I'm disappointed still in the last few weeks before this past week, but I'm glad we're on the right page now because we do have some injuries on the backend and getting pressure will help them out a lot. We want to continue to do that from this week on and for the rest of the season."
The improvement stems of course from their coach, Larry Foote, who said Wednesday for him, it's not about the gaudy stats, but rather more real-time pressure.
"Just winning," Foote said, when asked what he emphasizes to his players. "I just challenge those guys. I don't really look at the sack numbers because sometimes the quarterbacks just got the ball off or we get chips. I like to see their energy no matter what. If we have to beat two guys, the quarterback needs to feel our presence every game. I think in the Rams game, the Rams really didn't feel it that much. But they got back on track this past week."
-As far as what they'll face this week in the Miami Dolphins, Arians sees some continuity.
"Very similar," he said, comparing Miami's offense to New England's. "I think they're going to come out with some two-back sets also. But they're a great screen team. We have to watch it. I think the front four did a good job. We also blitzed and had different pressures. I think we'll continue to do that no doubt. I think Joe [Tryon-Shoyinka] is getting better and better. Vita [Vea] has been playing outstanding and Will [Gholston] had a couple of sacks two weeks in a row. That is the whole group getting a little bit better."
-On the other side of the ball, wide receiver Chris Godwin knows that they'll again have their work cut out for them with Miami letting up just 251.5 yards per game through the air on average.
"They've been playing really good defense lately, specifically for our side of the ball," Godwin said. "They've got two really good corners, they've got a nice pass rush, a lot of experienced guys and they've got a good scheme. I think some of the stuff they do presents some challenges for us, so it's going to really be up to us to go to work and really nail down and make sure our gameplan is solid, so that we can go in there and execute."
-Due to some of the secondary shuffling, the Buccaneers waived defensive lineman Khalil Davis, a 2020 sixth-round pick of theirs, to make room on the roster prior to Sunday's game. Davis never cleared waivers as he was scooped up by the Indianapolis Colts, therefore leaving a void on interior depth for the line.
The Bucs answered on Wednesday by signing defensive lineman Willington Previlon, who spent the 2020 season with Green Bay on their practice squad. The Rutgers product was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Packers and will wear No. 94 for the Bucs.
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