After a week of rest, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) are ready to face their week 7 opponent, the Washington Redskins (2-4). The Bucs week 5 five home win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was much needed after the team had fallen to 1-3, but it wasn’t much more than a confidence booster. Beating the Jaguars didn’t prove much, if anything at all; and while the Redskins aren’t an elite team, going on the road and getting their second straight win would be big for the Bucs.
The hope was that the Bucs week 6 bye came at a good time and would provide some much needed rest for some wounded players. That is the case for top CB Jonathan Banks, who was a full participant at practice this week and should be good to go after missing some time with a knee injury. His presence in the secondary will be much appreciated as Tim Jennings, Alterraun Verner and Mike Jenkins have all struggled to slow down opposing passing attacks.
DT Gerald McCoy had been nursing and playing with a shoulder injury since hurting it late in the week 2 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He didn’t miss any games, but was definitely playing through a lot of pain and probably not as effective as he or anyone else would expect him to be. He was a limited participant in practice this week, so his shoulder probably still isn’t 100%. I would still expect him to play just like he has been doing; this shoulder injury may last longer than the Bucs would like it to.
Veteran G Logan Mankins didn’t practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday while C Evan Smith was limited both days. There could be more shuffling to do on the Bucs offensive line. That doesn’t help out RB Doug Martin, who rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games in weeks 4 and 5. He may have to use more creativity and gut to keep that streak going if his O-line isn’t in sync.
When Martin and his counterpart Charles Sims can get things going on the ground it makes things a lot easier for Jameis Winston. The Bucs rookie QB is best when he doesn’t have to throw more than about 20 times as the team’s two wins have come when he passed 19 and 21 times. Expect the formula to be the same in Washington. Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter is more than happy to hand the ball to Martin and Sims if they can gain four to five YPC. That keeps the chains moving and opens up play-action opportunities for Winston.
Remember last year against the Redskins then-rookie WR Mike Evans had his best game of 2014, surpassing 200 yards and grabbing 2 TDs. Washington will certainly be watching him as he is completely healthy, but still hasn’t really connected with Winston. Another breakout game from Evans would certainly be more than welcome.
This is a big test for the Bucs on Sunday. The Redskins are certainly beatable and the Bucs have a great chance to get to .500 through their first six games. With an extra week to prepare the Bucs have to start strong and make this game competitive. Getting a win streak going for the first time since 2013 would be huge for the fans in Tampa.