Starting safety Jordan Whitehead was missing Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, and when cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting left the Week 1 game with an elbow injury, the absence of two starting championship defensive backs was felt badly.
Tampa Bay won’t get Murphy-Bunting back for a while, but they’re getting Whitehead back, and according to the fourth-year safety they’re getting a better version of him in Week 2.
“You can, one, see both safety positions (and) see how they’re working together,” Whitehead told media when asked about observing the game from the sidelines instead of playing in them, and how he still learns from it. “And then you can look at other positions like the linebackers...you just get to see from the coach’s eye.”
Specifically, Whitehead pointed out Mike Edwards who got the start in place of Whitehead in Week 1, Antoine Winfield Jr., and Andrew Adams, who he called ‘Double A’.
Edwards specifically figures to get more playing time again in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons due to the absence of Murphy-Bunting, something Whitehead says the team is ready for.
“We’ve been in positions like this before,” said Whitehead. “The next guy steps up. We’ve got a lot of versatile players and a lot of players who can do a lot of things...We are definitely going to miss Sean out there. There is only on Sean, but it’s the NFL. You’ve got to come in and you can’t miss a beat.”
Missing a beat means blowing a coverage when you’re a defensive back in the NFL, and a lot of criticism landed in the lap of cornerback Jamel Dean as Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense targeted him all night after Murphy-Bunting’s exit.
Like Whitehead said though, it’s the NFL. There’s no time to dwell on the past or pout about bad press. It’s on to the next one because it has to be.
We’ve seen Dean get beaten badly before. And we’ve seen him bounce back for his Buccaneers teammates, big. The return of Whitehead should help him do it again this weekend against the Falcons, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look for a 2-0 start, and their first win in the NFC South.