John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
The Bucs are relatively healthy, while the Redskins are struggling with many different injuries. Can Tampa Bay take advantage?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins face off on Sunday, and injuries could well determine the result of this game. Although the Bucs' injury report is sparsely populated, they've had to place defensive end Adrian Clayborn on injured reserve. That's a big hit for the defense, as the replacements aren't all that reliable: Daniel Te'o-Nesheim should start in Clayborn's place, while George Johnson and newly signed free agent Jeff Charleston could see some playing time as well.
Outside of Clayborn, though, the only Buccaneer likely to miss Sunday's game is cornerback Anthony Gaitor - hardly a key piece of this defense. It's curious that the game against the Redskins will represent the fourth consecutive game the diminutive second-year cornerback has missed. It's not clear what his injury is, but it doesn't appear to be getting better.
Meanwhile, cornerback E.J. Biggers is likely to return from injury, as he's preparing to play his first game this year. With the Bucs giving up more yards through the air than any other NFL team, getting a little help in coverage seems pretty useful. It's not clear how much Biggers will play, though, as his lack of tackling efficiency may see reduced playing time for the cornerback, although he's better in coverage than current nickel corner Brandon McDonald.
On the Redskins' side, cornerback Cedric Griffin has already been ruled out. That's a big hit to an already devastated secondary and defense, which has been forced to place several key players on injured reserve. Safety Brandon Meriweather appears to be on track to play after missing the previous games, but the Bucs shouldn't be too afraid of him: Meriweather is a big hitter, but a sloppy tackler, an undisciplined player and someone who's prone to freelancing. All attributes the Bucs could take advantage of.
On offense, the Redskins are likely to miss wide receivers Brandon Banks and Pierre Garcon, as well as left tackle Trent Williams. That should help the Bucs compensate for the loss of Adrian Clayborn, giving Daniel Te'o-Nesheim an easier matchup. With Garcon and Banks out, the Redskins are likely to lack a big-play element to their passing game, which should help the Bucs' defense as well. Then again, given the team's performance in pass coverage so far, the Redskins may not need that element to rack up yardage.
FULL INJURY REPORT
CB Cedric Griffin (hamstring)
WR Brandon Banks (hip), WR Pierre Garcon (foot), T Trent Williams (knee)
WR Leonard Hankerson (back), S Brandon Meriweather (knee), RB Evan Royster (knee)