By Tom Krasniqi
It was just minutes after the Miami game. The Bucs had just won their first game of the season. You would figure the players would enjoy the win for a while. But the theme in the locker room after the Dolphins victory quickly turned to Atlanta.
Gerald McCoy and Donald Penn said it over and over again-- It’s payback time. We owe Atlanta. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs will get a chance to avenge their Week 7 loss to their NFC South rivals.
“We haven’t played the other two yet. They’re the first divisional opponent we’re getting a second shot at. We owe them,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “We went down there, man, they got a win on us. We owe them. They’re coming into our house, so we’ve got to get payback.”
The Falcons beat the Bucs 31-23 in the first meeting. Slowing down Falcons QB Matt Ryan will be paramount. Ryan threw for 273 yards and three scores against the Bucs and was not sacked. Atlanta played the game without RB Steven Jackson and WR Roddy White. Both will be in the lineup on Sunday.
“He’s a great back, he’s going to get to his touches,” Bucs linebacker LaVonte David said regarding Jackson. “Even though their offense is more pass oriented, but you’ve got a great back like that you’ve got to feed him sometimes.”
Jackson has been banged up all season long and is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. Meanwhile, White has been dealing with some bumps and bruises as well. He has just 15 receptions to this point and no scores. White expects to be shadowed by Bucs CB Darrelle Revis on Sunday.
“He looks really good. He looks like old Revis,” White said during a conference call this week. This past Monday night, Revis locked down Dolphins WR Mike Wallace and held him to just four catches for 15 yards.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez has been seeing constant double-teams with White out and WR Julio Jones out for the season. The Bucs held Gonzo to just two catches for 30 yards in the first meeting. Safety Mark Barron will likely draw the task of slowing down Gonzo again.
The Falcons are dead last in running the football and the Bucs are now 5th in the league in stopping the run. If the Bucs can get any kind of pressure on Ryan, they may get the payback they’re looking for on Sunday.
As for the Friday injury report, LG Carl Nicks (foot) is out. DE Da’Quan Bowers (concussion) did not practice all week and is listed as questionable. WR Chris Owusu (foot) practiced fully the last two days but is also questionable. CB Mike Adams (knee) and SS Mark Barron (knee) practiced fully on Friday and are probable. WR Vincent Jackson (knee), RG Davin Joseph (knee), LT Donald Penn (calf), DT Akeem Spence (wrist) and CB Danny Gorrer (groin) are probable.
Injuries for the Falcons: TE Tony Gonzalez (toe) and WR Harry Douglas (knee) were limited in Friday’s practice and are both questionable. DE Malliciah Goodman (calf) is out. DT Corey Peters (knee), DT Peria Jerry (toe) RB Jason Snelling (knee) are questionable. WR Roddy White (shoulder), RB Steven Jackson (toe) and LB Sean Weatherspoon (foot) are probable.
News & Notes:
- With Bowers’ status in doubt, expect to see more of rookie DEs William Gholston and possibly Steven Means.
- The Bucs have 13 rookies on the 53-man roster. With so many rookies playing key roles, Schiano says rookie mistakes are going to happen.
- Schiano says the team will continue to be aggressive in getting after Falcons QB Matt Ryan: “He gets rid of the football so he’s not an easy guy to sack. We’re going to try and do everything we can to get to him but we have to make sure that we disrupt his timing.”
- Schiano announced that RB Mike James had surgery yesterday to repair his fractured ankle. RB Doug Martin is having surgery today on his torn labrum.
- Schiano says new RB Michael Hill is picking up the offense well and will be active on Sunday as the 3rd RB.
- Bucs CB Darrelle Revis says Falcons WR Roddy White looks to have lost a “step or two” because of injuries but Revis expects to see a healthy Roddy on Sunday.
- Bucs WR Vincent Jackson says practicing against Revis everyday pushes him: “It’s a lot of fun for us to work together. I’ve played against him a few times in my career. You like that. You like the challenge. You like playing guys that are considered some of the best at their position. It brings the best out of you. All we’re going to do is continue to elevate each other’s game.”
- The Falcons will get LB Sean Weatherspoon (foot) back for this game on Sunday. He’s been out since Week 2 and the Falcons consider him a big part of their defense.
- The Bucs are holding their annual “Sack Hunger” food drive this Sunday. Fans are urged to bring canned foods, including boxed nonperishable food and peanut butter, to the game. Collections will take place from 11am-1:30pm. Volunteers from Feeding America Tampa Bay, Metropolitan Ministries and Raymond James Financial will accept donations at yellow collection tents right in front of the parking lots as you approach the stadium.
- This Sunday, the Bucs welcome in the Atlanta Falcons to Raymond James Stadium. You can catch the game on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM with our coverage beginning at 9am with Countdown to Kickoff.
- For the latest Bucs news, keep it locked all day long on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM, your home of the Bucs and the best Bucs coverage. Don’t forget to check out the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the latest news and audio clips.