With all the injuries this 2016 Bucs team has endured, a few players have emerged from the shadows to help make significant impacts on both sides of the ball. Notably, Jacquizz has been the talk of Tampa but WR and Special Teams ace Russell Shepard and rookie DE Noah Spence played very well.
Rookie Noah Spence had a good afternoon against the Niners notching a sack and a tackle and more importantly, multiple pressures of Kaepernick from the edge and even deflected a pass after getting into the backfield. It’s fair to say the Niners QB was on the run all day from the Bucs front seven, and Spence finally was a big part of that on 2nd and 3rd downs showing the speed around the corner forcing Kap out of the pocket horizontally.
Captain Russell Shepard showed he can be relied upon to make plays for Jameis and the offense. The fourth-year pro from LSU has been a fantastic special teams ace since being drafted in 2013 but has been rarely targeted in a Bucs uniform. That might’ve changed Sunday when Winston targeted Shepard 6 times and coming down with 5 catches for 77 yards. All career highs plus a very nice TD reception. His routes were crisp, efficient, and reliable on Sunday and I have a feeling Jameis will be looking his way a lot more often.
If there’s one positive outlook on all the injuries this season, it is the ability to build depth and the Bucs have shown that the past few weeks. Look for Russell Shepard to have an impact on offense this Sunday versus an Oakland Raiders team giving up a lot of yards on defense. Go Bucs baby!