Here are five things to know about the Bills’ Week Seven opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3, last in NFC South).
1. Who plays QB? Quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a right shoulder injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s game and did not return. X-rays were negative, but an MRI Monday reportedly revealed an AC joint sprain that Winston may be able to play through, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. "I tried, I tried to battle it out and I guess sitting on the sideline only makes it worse and it stiffened up. That's all,” Winston said, via TampaBay.com. "I fell on my shoulder. Yeah, I've had that injury before. If it was in my other shoulder, it would've been fine but the throwing shoulder is kind of tough." If Winston can’t go, the Bills would be in for another dose of Fitzmagic in ageless wonder Ryan Fitzpatrick, the former Bill.
#Bucs QB Jameis Winston suffered an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder, source said. It may be something he’ll be able to play through
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 16, 2017
2. Last game: The final score of Sunday’s game was Cardinals 38, Buccaneers 33, but it wasn’t nearly as competitive as the final score would indicate. The Cardinals led 24-0 at halftime and pushed the lead to 31 in the third quarter before Fitzpatrick’s offense got on the board. The Bucs’ scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns in their comeback bid, but a Fitzpatrick interception at his own 1-yard line helped give the Cardinals the cushion they needed to hold on. Fitzpatrick completed 22 of 32 passes for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two picks in three-and-a-half quarters of work. The Bucs’ defense couldn’t slow down Adrian Peterson in his first game with the Cards. He gained 134 yards on 26 carries and scored twice while Carson Palmer connected with Larry Fitzgerald on 10 of 11 targets for 138 yards and a touchdown.
3. Kicking woes: The Bucs drew plenty of criticism – and laughs – for trading up to draft a kicker in the second round of the 2016 draft. Roberto Aguayo struggled in his rookie season and got cut in August. The Bucs replaced him with Nick Folk, who missed three field goals in a 19-14 Week Five loss to the Patriots. They’re now on to Patrick Murray, who played in two games for the Browns last year after being out of the league in 2015. Murray hit his only kick of the day Sunday (an extra point) as the Bucs mostly went for two-point conversions, but he hasn’t attempted a field goal yet. Kicking in tough wind conditions at New Era Field is a heck of a place to start.
4. First-round returns: While the Bills have enjoyed an immediate impact from first-round pick Tre’Davious White, the Bucs haven’t seen a ton of production yet from Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, whom they selected 19th overall. Cameron Brate is still the top tight end in Tampa Bay’s offense, logging 21 catches for 281 yards and a team-high four touchdowns while Howard only has five receptions for 107 yards. Howard may go on to have a great career – the only tight ends drafted higher than him since 2000 are Kellen Winslow (6th overall, 2004), Vernon Davis (6, 2006), Eric Ebron (10, 2014), Bubba Franks (14, 2000) and Jeremy Shockey (14, 2002) – but he isn’t making much of an impact right now. (Fun fact: Speaking of Brate, his touchdown reception from Fitzpatrick Sunday marked the first Harvard-to-Harvard TD connection in NFL history.)
5. Doug Martin’s back: Tampa Bay ranks third-worst in rushing yards per game (82.4), but was without running back Doug Martin for the first three weeks due to suspension. Martin is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, which would be tied for fifth in the league if he had enough attempts to qualify, and scored in each of his first two games back in the lineup. Containing him will be especially important if the Bucs are forced to use their backup quarterback.