Ryan Smith’s breakout continues against his toughest test yet
Admittedly this one may come back to bite me. The toughest match-up that the Buccaneers will need to deal with this Monday is the elite pair of Steelers receivers, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Buccaneers have been ravaged by injuries in the cornerback department, losing both opening day starters Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves to injury. Rookies M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis have stepped up in their stead, but neither have played as well as third year corner Ryan Smith has thus far.
Smith leads the team in passes defensed with three, and played arguably his best game as a pro last week against the Eagles. On Monday night he’ll be tasked with covering both Brown and Smith-Schuster at different points in the game, but will likely see the most of Brown as Carlton Davis doesn’t have the quickness or experience to cover the lightning-quick Brown.
This obviously puts Smith under a major spotlight, and could make him the victim of a long highlight reel.
I’m calling my shot, though: Smith will continue to lead the team in pass breakups, and will help keep Brown and Smith-Schuster under 150 combined yards. The Steeler pair will no doubt get theirs’, but Smith’s breakout can be launched into the stratosphere with a few big plays in coverage. For extra measure, I think we’ll continue to see Smith build up his reputation as a special teams cover ace.
That’s it for the bold predictions this week. To recap, we’re calling another big Fitzpatrick game, a turnover slump-breaker from Lavonte David, and a third straight strong game from Ryan Smith. Check back next week for more bold predictions, and be sure to flame me in the comments when I’m inevitably wrong!