-You knew wide receiver Chris Godwin was tough. How tough, though? Try coming back a week later from surgery – tough. That's exactly what Godwin is poised to do after doctors surgically repaired his finger that was injured in the Bucs' win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Godwin sat out Monday Night Football against the New York Giants but looks like he could make his 2020 primetime debut this Sunday night against the Saints. It's great news for an offense that seems to hum just a little bit better with Godwin on the field.
"There's no doubt – we know what he brings," said Head Coach Bruce Arians. "We'll see how sore it is tomorrow. He caught the ball fine, but we'll just see how sore it is. I would anticipate him probably playing, just knowing how tough he is and what it all means to him."
This also comes after any risk by returning has been mitigated as much as possible.
"I think we're past any kind of infection or anything like that," Arians said. "If there was any jeopardy at all, we would not let him play. He's been cleared, so we'll just see how the pain tolerance goes and see how sore he is tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure he'll go."
Godwin could give the offense the spark it needs against what is sure to be a tough opponent in the Saints, who currently sit just behind the Buccaneers for the division lead. The defense will also need to rise to the challenge and play as complete a game as we've seen they're capable of this year.
"Rush and coverage have been working really good this year," said outside linebacker Shaq Barrett. "We have a lot of guys getting back to the quarterback and there's literally nobody for the quarterback to throw the ball to. I love the way it's been working this year. For me personally getting after the quarterback, it's been a little different going against different sets. I have to work on my strength and power moves [and] I've been working on new moves. [I am] still getting pressure, but pressures don't mean [anything] if you don't have sacks to go with it."
That may not be entirely true, though I appreciate Barrett's humility. He has the third-most quarterback pressures of any player this year, according to the NFL's Next Gen Stats, and while that doesn't show up on a normal stat sheet and Barrett isn't enjoying the sacks himself, he's creating opportunities for others. He's doing it at a better rate than ever before, too. His 14.2% pressure rate is the best of his career – yes, even better than 2019 where he had 19.5 sacks.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been sacked the second-fewest times of any quarterback so far this season. He's taken just nine through seven games. The Bucs account for one of those sacks from Week One. Here's to hoping they add to that total on Sunday.
-The Saints are gearing up for the rematch, too. Here's what they're saying ahead of Sunday night.
"The jockeying for the better individual record is in the background, peeking over their shoulders.
The scuffle for the superior team record is the main course for New Orleans' Drew Brees and Tampa Bay's Tom Brady in the nationally televised, Sunday night game between the Saints (5-2) and Buccaneers (6-2).
Brees and Brady lead teams that continue to churn out wins and fight for first place in the NFC South. And that's the prize that will be at stake at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla."
"Devin White looks like he's having a great season, what kind of challenges does he present when you're looking at that defense and game planning?"
"Yeah, he presents a lot of challenges. He is having a great year. It's hard to get your eight and nine hole or wide zone or wide plays run. He's so good and fast over the top. He's good in coverage, he gives them great flexibility, he can match up with the runner, he can match up and the other thing that I think it goes a little under undervalued is he's a good pressure player. He's had pass rush success and he's someone that I think has a knack for that so he's having a great year."
"Is it a little bit different preparing for this offense this time around now that you guys have some tape on (Tom) Brady and how he fits in (Bruce) Arians' offense? And is it any different than what you guys were kind of expecting back in week one?"
"Yeah it's different, definitely different. They've got some, some things, you know, getting players the ball that they need to get the ball. And you know, just that, we've just got to win our matchups. That's it. Win our matchups and we'll be alright."
"Some talk it.
Some walk it.
But currently, no team in the NFL talks it and walks it against the run as well as Tampa Bay, which has the league's stingiest run defense for the second straight season.
The Buccaneers allow a league-low 70.4 rushing yards per game, even less than the 73.8 they gave up in 2019. The New Orleans Saints, 5-2 entering Sunday night's game against the Buccaneers (6-2) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., are in their best run groove this season – 164 against Detroit, 95 against the Chargers, 138 against Carolina and 122 against Chicago, all victories.
But Tampa Bay has been a difficult team to budge."
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