With Brent Grimes being officially ruled out Sunday, it should come as no surprise that the team will be stretched thin in the defensive backfield as they try to slow down Drew Brees and company. Grimes injury likely means the team will rely heavy on Carlton Davis outside along with the possibility of seeing M.J. Stewart get himself broken into the league as well with a nickel role. The likely other option - that will pain many to see - is Ryan Smith outside with Carlton Davis, allowing the team to move Vernon Hargreaves III inside to nickel.
Facing Drew Brees while down your top corner is never something a team hopes for going into week one. For the Buccaneers the timing of Grimes injury may not be the worst possible thing to happen. The team is already against the odds with Jameis Winston out and the defensive line is dealing with first round pick Vita Vea out as well. If there’s a time for injury it’s now, while the team is already down and battling. Grimes injury provides early opportunity and chances for a duo of young corners to get some meaningful playing time week one. Davis and Stewart will be in the game with the bullets flying against the top quarterback in the division in a hostile environment. If you’re going to break in the new guys, might as well let them do it early and against the best.
The team as stated above may and potential will throw Ryan Smith into the mix ahead of Stewart, it certainly would seem reasonable given the teams history and Smith’s veteran presence regardless of how inconsistent his play has been. Should Smith start, Brees will likely look his way early and often. Davis and his size should be a good match-up to look at when he’s lined up across from Michael Thomas. The early test is one of many that Davis and company will have to look forward too in a division filled with physical freaks at corner. The more comfortable Davis and Stewart can get with early work the better as the two should be the future along with Vernon Hargreaves III at corner for years to come if all things work out.
The defensive side of the football team will be under fire all day from Brees. How much pressure the front four can create will play a huge factor in how effective the young bucks in the backfield will play. It will be tough without the teams best corner and Mike Smith will have to do his best to call the game accordingly. Will the new additions along the defensive line and defensive backfield off-set the loss of the teams top corner? Only time will tell. As always, Go Bucs!