Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) reacts after breaking up a pass intended for New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers vs. Saints: Five Impact Players to Watch in Sunday’s Game


With the all the turmoil and craziness surrounding the Buccaneers following the heinous loss to the Jets, the Bucs head into the home opener in a very fragile state. They need to get out there and put together an effort that not only the team can rally behind but also the fans and media can as well. Here’s the five players that will make the greatest impact on whether that will happen or not.

Lavonte David

Poor Lavonte had to go an entire week with the demons of the devastating late hit penalty that cost the Buccaneers an opening week victory. Well, now it’s time for him to get back out there and remind everyone why he’s one of the biggest reasons why the Buccaneers defense is on the upswing.

David had a great game up until the nightmare (do we still not have a nickname for that play yet?) and should be able to get right back at it again this week. He’ll be expected to do quite a bit more pass coverage against New Orleans, but he should also be free himself up to make some big plays in the backfield. Expect David to come out rocking and ready to go, let’s just hope his excitement to put last week behind him doesn’t get him into any trouble this week.

Josh Freeman

I’ve heard people claim that this is the biggest game of Freeman’s career. And while it’s hard to debate it at this moment, I’m sure there will be plenty more of of this magnitude just in the next few months. Freeman had a tumultuous week to say the least. First the riff or non riff or whatever it is with Coach Greg Schiano, then missing the team photo because he “overslept” (still don’t buy that).

Freeman needs a good performance or else the Mike Glennon supporters, also known as the “anyone but Freeman’s”, are going to be louder than ever. Josh should have more time, more open receivers, and a much improved running game compared to last week.

While the Ryan brothers’ defenses are similar, the Jets have far more talent on that side of the ball than this Saints team. Watch for Freeman to have many more opportunities to make plays.

But with it comes many more chances to make unforced mistakes which rile up the fan base. I expect Freeman to be much better this week, but I’m telling you right now, no matter how he plays or what that stat sheet reads, if the Buccaneers are 0-2, look out.

Davin Joseph

Aug 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Davin Joseph (75) on the sidelines during the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Joseph was bordering on terrible. He had a big holding penalty, his run blocking was sub par, and he simply didn’t look himself in his first game back from the devastating season ending injury a year ago.

He must step up his game in Week 2 to help not only get Josh Freeman back on track, but also get Doug Martin going. Doug had nowhere to go a week ago because the Bucs offensive line was getting torched play after play. This is a colossally easier task and I expect to see Jospeh playing closer to what we remember from the past than last week.

Darren Sproles

This shifty little running back/wide receiver always tends to make a huge play against the Bucs that just infuriates fans. The Saints plan on using him even more in the offense this year than in the past and he’ll be one the Buccaneers have to game plan heavily against.

It will be the responsibility of all 11 guys on the field to make sure Sproles does not get into too much space to allow him to beat you. He’s the kind of player that can lay low for 60 straight plays, then gash you for the killer one. The Bucs have seen him do it too many times before to ignore him, but I’m still projecting one or two times he gets away from Tampa defenders leaving us all to shake our heads.

Cameron Jordan

Jordan had a monster first week against the Falcons. Eight QB hurries, EIGHT. He’s really the lone wolf along that defensive line when it comes to true threats to make the big play.

The Buccaneers will have to commit double teams and chips to his side as often as possible to slow Jordan down. I’m sure he’s been watching tape all week salivating over the disastrous state the Buccaneers offensive line looked to be in at New York.

Jordan could take over this game, but if the Bucs can slow him down or even take him out of it, Freeman and Martin should have plenty of chances to put together big plays.

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