NFL: Buccaneers face Falcons, out to end two-game skid
Early NFC South supremacy is at stake on Sunday afternoon when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Atlanta Falcons.
It is far from the expected duel atop the division, even from just a few weeks ago. Then again, perhaps a bigger surprise is the reality that the Buccaneers (2-2) have lost two in a row and at home, no less.
“Yeah, you never want to lose back-to-back games,” Tampa Bay wide receiver Chris Godwin said. “Like I said, it’s a long year and we have a lot of prepared guys on our team, so I’m confident in our ability to kind of come together as a team and put it together.”
Few players in the NFL are as prepared as Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who missed practice on Wednesday. The 45-year-old played through a right shoulder and finger injury during Tampa Bay’s 41-31 setback to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Brady downplayed the injuries Wednesday by providing a medical update during his weekly SiriusXM podcast with Jim Gray.
“My shoulder’s doing OK,” Brady said. “You know, just some bumps and bruises and I kind of took a hit there on it. Got some treatment today. Got a little bit last night. So I’m sure I’ll be fine in the end.”
Brady threw for just one touchdown in each of the Buccaneers’ first three games before finding the end zone three times to go along with 385 yards passing against the Chiefs. The three-time NFL MVP flustered the Falcons in two games last season to the tune of 644 yards passing and nine touchdowns.
The Bucs’ Mike Evans reeled in eight receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns versus Kansas City last week. He also found the end zone on two occasions in Tampa Bay’s 48-25 victory over Atlanta on Sept. 19, 2021.
Julio Jones is in line to play in his first career game against Atlanta. He is the Falcons’ franchise leader in catches (848) and receiving yards (12,896), while also ranking second in club history with 60 receiving touchdowns.
Jones (knee) joined Godwin (knee), former Falcon Russell Gage (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman (knee/hamstring) in being limited in Wednesday’s practice, while fellow wideout Cole Beasley announced his retirement earlier in the day after playing just two games with the team.
Left tackle Donovan Smith (elbow) also was limited in Wednesday’s practice, while tight end Cameron Brate (concussion), safety Logan Ryan (foot) and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (foot) did not participate.
Atlanta (2-2) will be hard-pressed to snap a four-game losing skid in the series after placing versatile running back Cordarrelle Patterson on injured reserve. Patterson was nursing an ailing knee while rushing for 38 yards in the Falcons’ 23-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier stepped up and accumulated 104 scrimmage yards (84 rushing, 20 receiving) against the Browns. Caleb Huntley added 56 yards and a touchdown on the ground for Atlanta, which ranks fourth in the NFL with 168.0 rushing yards per game after finishing 31st with an 85.4 average in 2021.
“There are a lot of things we’ve changed behind the scenes offensively,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said, when asked what changed from last year’s team.
“We have different personnel, guys who needed to develop and we’re very pleased with the guys who were here last year.”
Tight end Kyle Pitts (hamstring) and punter Bradley Pinion (personal) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice for Atlanta.
Feleipe Franks worked with the first-team offense in place of Pitts, who caught one of four targets for 25 yards Sunday. He has 10 receptions for 150 yards and no touchdowns this season.
–Field Level Media