With three games left to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are as close as they’ve come to ending their current playoff drought. Just in time too since the Cleveland Browns also seem poised to do the same.
Standing in their way are the Atlanta Falcons (twice) and the Detroit Lions. Oh, and don’t forget teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams who are all still fighting for seeds themselves.
Now though, the Bucs will have another opponent. One they’ve been facing and winning against all year; COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Tampa Bay announced they placed kicker Ryan Succop, punter Bradley Pinion, and long snapper Zach Triner all on the reserve/COVID-19 list. This means one or all either tested positive for the virus or has been in close contact with someone who has.
Earlier in the day the NFL and NFLPA released their regularly scheduled joint statement updating COVID-19 monitoring test results. In it, they announced fourteen new confirmed positive tests were found among players, and thirty-one new confirmed positive tests came back from other team personnel.
Of course, with the team unable to specify whether the three specialists tested positive themselves or were just in close contact with someone who has, we don’t know for certain and won’t speculate about the test status of Succop, Pinion, and Triner.
While the Buccaneers certainly don’t want to be without any of their players if they can help it, the loss of Ryan Succop stands out a bit bigger among the three.
In his twelfth season in the NFL, Succop is currently on pace to have his best made field goal percentage of his career. Having made 24 of 26 field-goal attempts, his 92.3% accuracy rate is better than his 2016 performance with the Tennessee Titans when Succop made 22 of 24 attempts that year.
Fortunately for the Buccaneers, they’ve been stashing kicker Greg Joseph on their practice squad all season. Anyone questioning why a kicker would hold a spot on the roster now has their answer.
Joseph is in his third year as an NFL kicker with previous stops in Tennessee and with the Cleveland Browns.
In total, Joseph has an 85% made field goal percentage, having converted seventeen of his twenty career attempts. His longest made field goal came from 51-yards, and he’s also made 25 of his 29 extra-point tries as well.
No time is a good time for a team to lose key specialists during a playoff run, but the fact Tampa Bay will be playing this Sunday indoors against the Atlanta Falcons also helps, as the weather will not be a factor for the lesser experienced replacements, should they be called upon.