These Buccaneers have plenty to prove when they face off with the Panthers.
Division matchups are never easy in the NFL. It only makes matters more difficult when half of your team is injured like the Buccaneers are today.
Tampa is playing without key starters on offense and defense, but the wheels keep on turning. You don’t get to take games off because of injuries like these, and the Bucs still need to do everything in their power to win this game to keep themselves in the best playoff position.
If the Bucs want to pull out this win, they will rely on the talent of the following players that have a lot to prove when they take the field today.
1. Ronald Jones
Jones has been a hot topic of discussion this season. Should the Bucs trade him? Should the Bucs use him more? Why won’t Bruce Arians let him stay on the field?
One way or another, the RoJo experiment is likely coming to a close in Tampa at the end of this season, but he is the lead guy for the Bucs right now with Fournette out.
Will Jones shoulder the RB1 load again and carry the Bucs to a win, and by extension a new contract with another team? Or will Jones drop the ball (literally) and further degrade his further contract options?
2. Tom Brady
Brady has easily proven his worth to this roster, but he hasn’t cemented his case for league MVP yet. A dominant game against the Panthers without most of his offensive weapons would go a long way to improving his status as the first MVP in franchise history.
3. Antonio Brown
The Buccaneers caught a lot of heat from some parts of the fanbase when they brought Brown back to the starting lineup after his suspension was up. The team has made it clear that they value winning more than the off-field issues, but Brown has to ball out if he wants to quiet his doubters, and even that may not be enough.
4. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
JTS gets a shot at the starting job today with Jason Pierre-Paul out, and there is a real chance that this solidifies the rookie as the starter going forward if he maintains his prior levels of play over a full game today.
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