What to expect from Buccaneers defense in week one

TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 09: Vita Vea #50 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackles Mark Ingram #22 of the New Orleans Saints after running for 11-yards in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 09: Vita Vea #50 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackles Mark Ingram #22 of the New Orleans Saints after running for 11-yards in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images) /
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TAMPA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 23: Demetrius Harris #88 of the Cleveland Browns has a pass broken up by Jordan Whitehead #31 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 23, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 23: Demetrius Harris #88 of the Cleveland Browns has a pass broken up by Jordan Whitehead #31 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 23, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Surprising faces at safety

A rookie does actually crack the starting lineup both at safety and at inside linebacker. Rookie Mike Edwards will start alongside Jordan Whitehead at safety and Edwards has had the best preseason of all Buccaneer rookies by a decent margin. Edwards was able to shine during training camp and seemed to be in contention for a starting spot from the start of the preseason and never seemed to look back unlike some of his other counterparts.

The former fourth round pick Jordan Whitehead has looked ready all preseason and even picked off Baker Mayfield in the matchup with Cleveland. Meanwhile Justin Evans is still fighting off an injury, and it is looking unlikely that he will play on Sunday as the 49ers come to Raymond James Stadium.

This injury update on Evans is surprising and concerning, as he missed practically all of training camp, was placed on injured reserve last season, and is still not healed as the 2019 season is set to begin. The Buccaneers could play both M.J. Stewart and Deone Bucannon in the third level of their defense with just  three healthy safeties.

Behind Edwards and Whitehead is savvy veteran Darian Stewart, who came to Tampa late into training camp as their safety depth was taking a hit. A long time Denver Bronco, Stewart has been named to one Pro Bowl and looks to add a veteran presence and a level of leadership to the young corp.