Buccaneers: Players to watch against the Falcons in Week 12
By Sean Eck
Smith who is currently ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 62nd best-left tackle in all of the football has the daunting task of protecting the immobile Ryan Fitzpatrick from the 11th rated defensive end in the NFL. Adrian Claiborne, the one-time Buccaneer, has been on an absolute tear as of late, and Smith is the man that will be tasked with holding him at bay this week. Claiborne has accounted for 28% of sacks the Falcons have accrued this season. The majority of those sacks come against opponents who hold the same position as Smith.
While Smith has been underwhelming for a third-year left tackle, he has shown flashes of being a top quality blindside protector in the league. The Buccaneers coaching staff is tasked every week with attempting to get Smith to have more of those moments.
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This week could be the make or break week and is a must win for the Buccaneers to remain in the playoff hunt. How well Smith can hold back the pass rush of the Falcons could be a critical determining factor in the outcome. Having recorded 29 sacks on the season, the Falcons are tied for fifth best in the NFL. Smith needs have a solid game to slow down the Falcons pace and allow the offense time to develop.