The already thin tight end position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just got a bit thinner, as both Tom Crabtree and Luke Stocker will miss Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, according to a tweet from Bucs’ Insider Jenna Laine.
Bucs TE Tom Crabtree is out for today’s game vs. the Patriots. So is Luke Stocker. #TBvsNE
— JennaLaineBucs (@JennaLaineBucs) September 22, 2013
This fully explains the Buccaneers’ decision to promote Danny Noble to the active roster, as he and Tim Wright are the only pass catching tight ends the Buccaneers have. Nate Byham is a blocking specialist who struggles to gain separation and get open reliably.
This is a huge opportunity for Noble and Wright to prove themselves, especially because of how poor Stocker has been this season when he has played. Wright is a converted wide receiver who has skills that can get him open against the right matchups, and Noble has surprising athleticism and size for a tight end.
But it also highlights the Buccaneers’ extreme lack of depth at the position, as all three of the Buccaneers’ tight ends that will be active today would fail to make a few other NFL rosters.
Against a good New England team today, the Buccaneers will need to spread the ball around on offense and keep the defense honest. That means the tight ends must get involved to give Josh Freeman more options, and to spread out the defense. That means Noble and Wright have a huge task ahead of them.
Can they respond? Or will we see more of the same from the Buccaneer offense? We’ll find out this afternoon.