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The rise of Cameron Brate, offensive line troubles and more from Buccaneers snap counts

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Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Indianapolis Colts, so let's take to the official play counts to see what they can tell us about the Bucs' strategies. There aren't a lot of remarkable things -- the Bucs have settled into a starting group that takes the vast majority of the snaps on both sides of the ball -- but there are still a few curious decisions on playing time this week.

Not a lot of help for the offensive line

Four special teams snaps. That's all she wrote for Demar Dotson this week, as was the case in the past few weeks. He's not even getting a toehold as a sixth lineman, with those plays reserved for Kevin Pamphile. Speaking of: the Bucs only had five plays with Kevin Pamphile on the field this week, a massive drop compared to previous weeks when he was on the field for ten or more plays per game. That won't have helped the team's pass protection struggles.

Gerald McCoy getting less playing time

This is a curious decision: Gerald McCoy played just 66% of the defensive snaps this week. That's still more than any other defensive tackle, but he's generally played close to 90% of the snaps this year -- he's played 78.6% of the defensive snaps on the season. The decision to limit his playing time a little this week is weird, given that he's actually fully healthy and visibly more disruptive now, recording 2.5 sacks the past two games. The Bucs don't have a lot of depth at defensive tackle, either. Henry Melton showed up a few times as his backup and Akeem Spence has played well, but keeping your best defensive player on the sidelines for a third of the plays seems like a bad decision.

The rise of Cameron Brate

Brate  has firmly entrenched himself as the team's number one tight end at this point. Luke Stocker's officially the starter with Austin Seferian-Jenkins injured, but he's a blocker only. Brate played 61% of the offensive snaps this week, more than any skill position player not named Mike Evans or Vincent Jackson. He's doing so at the expense of Brandon Myers, who had just 10 snaps and has been a non-factor all season long. Brate, on the other hand, has become increasingly productive and put up five catches for 53 yards against the Colts. He'll lose his place when Seferian-Jenkins returns, but he's a useful and reliable weapon who should continue to get some playing time.