Last Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the division rival Carolina Panthers 32-6. Although many could have predicted this win for Tampa Bay, they might not have been able to predict the key contributors of the game. The Buccaneers were missing two of their best receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, putting the offense at an immediate disadvantage. Fortunately, some lesser-known names stepped up when it mattered most.
Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who rarely saw any snaps this season behind Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, ripped off a 55-yard touchdown run to give the Buccaneers an early 7-3 lead. It was Vaughn’s first career trip to the endzone on the ground, something that many have been waiting for since he was drafted in 2020. Although Vaughn failed to do much afterwards, it gave fans promise in what has been a disappointing career so far.
Antonio Brown led the way in receiving following his return from reserve/COVID-19 list (and a suspension), but former LSU sprinter Cyril Grayson also had a career day. Grayson had 95 total yards (81 receiving,14 rushing), highlighted by a 62-yard catch-and-run near the end of the first half. Grayson has spent much of this season on the practice squad, but did have a 50-yard touchdown catch against the Saints in week 8. It’s now clear that Grayson deserves a spot on the active roster, even when Godwin and Evans are healthy. He is becoming Tom Brady’s new deep threat, a role that was filled by Scotty Miller in 2020. Heading into the playoffs, it will be interesting to see if Grayson or Breshad Perriman will take over the WR4 role.
Depth is important in the NFL, and with numerous injuries hitting the Buccaneers hard in recent weeks, others have needed to step up. So far, the results have been positive, and hopefully this can continue into week 17 against the Jets.