The Buccaneers will be getting some reinforcement at cornerback for tonight’s game against the Giants. The team announced that they’ve activated cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting off injured reserve.
The former second-round pick suffered a dislocated elbow in Week 1, but he returned to practice earlier this month. Murphy-Bunting started 23 games through his first two seasons in the league, collecting four interceptions and 114 tackles. He also came up big during last season’s Super Bowl run, snagging three picks in four games. He’ll surely slide right back into the lineup for the defending champs.
Murphy-Bunting was the first of a few Tampa Bay corners to go down this season. The Bucs subsequently lost Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis, though Dean has since returned. Davis, who has been out since Week 4, was previously eyeing a Week 10 return, and his return appears to be imminent. The cornerback brought in because of this injury run, Richard Sherman, later landed on injured reserve, and fellow replacement Dee Delaney was knocked out of last week’s contest with a concussion.
The Buccaneers also activated long snapper Zach Triner from IR today. The veteran was also injured during the season opener, with Carson Tinker filling in. The team is temporarily holding two long snappers, and the team will surely make a decision at the position before next weekend.
The Buccaneers have placed starting LT Donovan Smithon the reserve/COVID-19 list, per a team announcement. As a result, Smith will miss Tampa’s matchup with the Falcons on Sunday.
The 27-year-old blocker released a statement saying that he had close contact with a family member who recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Per league protocols, Smith must self-quarantine for at least five days.
Smith has never been a world-beater, but even an average blindside protector is a valuable commodity in the NFL, as evidenced by the three-year, $41.25MM contract Smith signed with the Bucs in 2019. He has been entrenched as the Bucs’ starting LT since Tampa selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft, and this Sunday’s contest will be just the second missed game of his career.
2020 has actually been a solid year for him relative to his usual performance, at least if you believe the advanced metrics. Pro Football Focus thinks favorably of both his run-blocking and pass-blocking this season and considers him the 39th-best tackle in the league out of 80 qualified players. Josh Wells will likely get the start in Smith’s absence.
In order to guard against the possibility of losing their primary punter, kicker, and long snapper, the Bucs brought in free agent P Dustin Colquitt, K Brett Maher, and LS Garrison Sanbornfor visits, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets. It doesn’t sound like there is a need to sign those players now, but Tampa may be keeping them on speed dial just in case.
This time of year, a lot of teams are auditioning guys for potential reserve/futures deals to be a part of their 90-man rosters for 2019. It’s also common to see a lot of CFL guys getting looks this time of year, because players participating in the 2018 CFL season aren’t eligible to sign NFL contracts until after the regular season is over.