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Shaq's Homecoming Game Earns Him an Award & Mike Evans in the Red Zone | Carmen Catches Up

The Buccaneers’ outside linebacker had quite the homecoming in Denver, earning him Defensive Player of the Week honors. Plus, the Bucs talk about just how good Mike Evans is… especially in the red zone.


-Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett won NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his game against his former team in Denver. During the game, Barrett recorded two sacks, one of which was in the end zone, thereby registering a safety. He also led the team with three tackles for loss. It was a homecoming fit for a king… a sack king. Get it?

It was the second time Barrett won the award, which puts him in elite company within the Buccaneer record books. Thanks to Communications Coordinator and Stat Looker Upper Extraordinaire Andrew Holman for pointing this out: other Buccaneers to have won DPOTW multiple times include Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp along with All-Pros Ronde Barber, Lavonte David, Hardy Nickerson and Simeon Rice.

-The Buccaneer offense has been concentrating on the red zone in practice and it's starting to show as the team gets more comfortable with each passing week. And though there has been an emphasis on it this year, that's nothing new. In fact, in 2019, the Bucs were fourth in red zone touchdown percentage. And they're looking to carry that over to this season.

"I think it's just been better execution," said Arians on Wednesday. "We practice it as much as we ever have and put as much emphasis as we always do because most games come down to four points or less, and that's a touchdown versus a field goal. We put a ton of emphasis in practice and practice it a lot."

And one of the reasons the Bucs are so good at scoring touchdowns inside the 20? Wide receiver Mike Evans, who had two goal-line touchdowns just this past weekend. Quarterback Tom Brady said after the game what a huge red-area threat Evans is, while also acknowledging he needs to get him the ball more at other positions on the field. Brady isn't the only one that knows how good Evans is, though. Ask a corner who had to go up against him all of training camp.

"Mike is one of the most unstoppable receivers in our league right now, in my opinion," said cornerback Carlton Davis. "There are a couple ways you could play him, but [there] would definitely have to be a double down there on Mike, especially in the red zone area. He's just that much of a threat, obviously. It's pretty hard to stop him because he's one of those receivers that can run any route in the route tree, score and do it easily. You would have to depend on coverage to kind of help you out there."

That should be what the Chargers end up doing as they come to visit Tampa Bay this weekend. With Wednesday practice comes a shift in focus to the next week's opponent and Evans is locked in with the rest of his teammates on continuing to improve. That starts by beating Los Angeles.

"Better execution this week," Evans said about the key to the game. "I feel like we've been improving each week, [but] this week we need to put it all together, play the full game out and convert on third down. That's going to be huge for us. Last week I think we converted about 50 percent [on third down] – it should have been around 80 percent. On some of the throws I had a drop [and] there's a couple other plays in there. We can't have these pre-snap penalties or the holding calls [that are] killing our drives. We just have to be better in that aspect and be better on third down and I like our chances."

Tampa Bay has already come quite a ways from Week One in New Orleans. You can see the offense really starting to click more and more each week. The defense – well they're pretty much already in midseason form.

"I think we've had a lot of improvements so far from Week 1 to Week 3," said tight end O.J. Howard, speaking about the offense. "Just little things as far as being on the same page on certain concepts or versus certain coverages. There's still a lot of things out there we can improve on to get it all down pat and make it flow as smooth as we really want it to. There definitely has been improvement and that just comes from film study and just finally playing together. It was our third time, so I think as the season goes on, we're just going to get more comfortable."

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