Week 1 is finally here, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers revenge tour can officially get underway. All offseason long the narrative around the team was that they were cooked before the season even started, and without Tom Brady the Yucks were fully back.
As easy as it was to grasp at that low hanging fruit -- and boy did folks grasp -- it overlooks how talented the Bucs remain in the post-Brady era. Mike Evans has a whole contract situation he's dealing with but it's only going to motivate one of the best receivers in the league to play even better. Meanwhile young players like Tristan Wirfs, Vita Vea, and Chris Godwin are looking to fully establish themselves as core pieces of the future, not to mention guys like Devin White, Lavonte David, and Jamel Dean roamaing around the defense as well.
The point is, the Bucs are still a very talented team on paper and could be in line to surprise folks who so easuly wrote them off.
One of the best young Bucs players is safety Antoine Winfield Jr. He missed most of the preseason with a calf injury and had some Bucs fans worried about his status leading up to Week 1's matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
Is Antoine Winfield Jr playing Week 1 vs. Vikings?
Tampa Bay's season opener in Minnesota acts as a sort of homecoming for Winfield Jr., who grew up there and played his college ball with the Gophers. Winfield's father, Antoine Sr., played for the Vikings during the mid-2000s, so Junior is no stranger to the team or the area.
His talent on the field is the chief reason Bucs fans want to see him in action on Sunday, but the story is a cool reason too. It will mark the first time Winfield Jr is playing a game in Minnesota since he was at the University of Minnesota, and offers a fun extra layer to the matchup.
While Winfield missed most of the preseason with an injury he suffered during joint practice with the Jets, it appears he's going to be ready to start the season healthy enough to play.
Winfield was on the injury report all week but he was a full participant every single day. Barring some sort of turn for the worse leading up to kickoff, it looks like Winfield will be making his season debut alongside the rest of the Bucs up in Minnesota.
If you need any reassurances that Winfield is ready to go, here's what he looked like in practice earlier this week:
Considering a calf injury is what was holding him back during the preseason, that looks like a pretty sure sign that he's fully back.