Buccaneers Battling More Than The Vikings In Opener


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With Tom Brady no longer around, the Buccaneers have transformed from one of the oldest teams in the league to one of the youngest with six undrafted free agents among their 13 rookies on the active roster. Left tackle Donovan Smith, wide receiver Julio Jones, running back Leonard Fournette, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, safety Mike Edwards and kicker Ryan Succop are all gone, too, from the NFC South champion squad that finished 8-9 in 2022.

“It was challenging for us, but it was fun. It was exciting,” general manager Jason Licht said of the roster reconstruction. “Any time you challenge your staff to go find gems at the dollar store, there is kind of an excitement to it. That’s what we get paid to do.”


Tampa Bay safety Antoine Winfield Jr. will revisit the city where he starred in college for Minnesota — and where his dad led the Vikings’ secondary from 2004-2012. Winfield had 11 tackles and a sack as a rookie against the Vikings in 2020, but he has never played them in Minnesota.

“It is going to be special going up there,” Winfield said.


The Bucs have moved All-Pro Tristan Wirfs from right tackle to left tackle to anchor an unproven offensive line, with Luke Goedeke stepping in at right tackle, free agent acquisition Matt Feiler taking over at left guard and rookie Cody Mauch slotted as the right guard. Center Ryan Jensen will miss another season with a knee injury, with Robert Hainsey again replacing him.

The front five will be tested in one of the league’s loudest stadiums, where the Vikings have never lost a home opener with fans admitted since it opened in 2016. They were beaten in 2020 by Green Bay during the pandemic when the seats were empty.

This article first appeared on Sports Talk Florida and is used with permission.

Sports Talk Florida
Sports Talk Florida

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