The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got back to work after a four-day break. The Bucs beat the Cowboys 31-29 on Thursday night and took the weekend off before returning to work Tuesday to prep for the Atlanta Falcons this weekend.
The news was not good on the injury front. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting will be out a minimum of three to six weeks. Coach Bruce Arians said that it is an injury that could cause Murphy-Bunting to miss the rest of the season. The Bucs will know more later this week.
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The Bucs also lost long snapper Zach Trinor for 10-12 weeks with a broken finger. Ryan Jensen will fill in for Trinor while he is on the IR.
Arians talked about the number of penalties and the turnovers in the game when asked what the Bucs needed to do to play better. “The biggest thing is turnovers. Just protect the ball better. If we don’t turn the ball over in that game, it’s not that close. Correct the turnovers and play a little better in space, tackle a little better.”
The Bucs had over 100 yards in penalties in the opening win and also had four turnovers. Two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Running backs Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette each contributed to the turnover total. Jones fumbled in the second quarter and promptly spent the rest of the night on the bench. Fournette had a ball go off his hands and into the hands of Cowboys rookie linebacker Micah Parsons for one of the Buccaneer interceptions.
Fournette returned to make some critical catches for the Bucs down the stretch. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has no concerns that both backs will move on from those mistakes. “The professional guys know how to move past it, get themselves in positions so when the next play presents itself, this group tends to make it. I’m more excited for the guys that people may think they didn’t play well just because I know what it does to them. I know how they’ll react to that, and I just try to think to give them more opportunities to play well and play at a high level.”
Arians said that Ronald Jones would get the start against the Falcons this Sunday. Arians tends to rotate Jones and Fournette, and it doesn’t matter who the starter is. The coach will go with the back who has the hot hand.
Everyone seems concerned about the number of catches that Pro-Bowl receiver Mike Evans had against the Cowboys. Everyone that is except offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. “I’ll put it like this, think he left this game with more catches than he did a year ago. So, it’s an improvement. I don’t view it that way. Mike doesn’t see single coverage. There is no one guy following him around. All Mike can do is get himself in position. We’ll move him around and get him in (a) position to allow him to make plays, but I wouldn’t freak out after one game. That’s just football being football.”
Evans finished with three catches for 24 yards. Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown had 100 yards receiving, while Rob Gronkowski finished with eight catches for 90 yards.
Buccaneers punter Bradley Pinion was named the NFC special teams player of the week. Pinion put three of his four punts inside the ten-yard line and averaged 49.3 yards per kick. The Cowboys, on average, started their offensive drives at the nine-yard line.
Arians commented on the outstanding play of the special teams. “The special-teamers showed up exactly in the ways we want them to. Our kickers kicked well, and our returners were really, really good, but they had good blocking, too.”