Bucs shuffle linebackers in anticipation of Bengals

by Gary Shelton on October 25, 2018 · 2 comments

in general

David has new teammates at linebacker./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Thursday, 3 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Bucs needed a new item for their linebackers' meeting this week.

It's called "name tags."

The Bucs, who lost both Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy to injuries this week, will shuffle their lineup this week against Cincinnati. Adarius Taylor will start for Alexander, and newly signed Kevin Minter will enter the mix. Devante Bond and Riley Bullough will split time at strong side linebacker.

Taylor, a special teams captain, played well against the Browns last week.

“I think the best story about Adarius is my first year as a coordinator and he came in from Carolina, and a couple weeks later we

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were playing Carolina," said Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter. "Everything I was telling him – I said, ‘Hey, do this, do this, do this,’ and he goes, ‘That’s not how Carolina’s going to do it,’ and I’m going ‘Well, yeah, that’s how they’re going to do it!’

"Now we need him to channel his inner Luke Kuechly. Now he’s the middle linebacker, so here he is. He’s hung in there and he’s a tough customer. Obviously by being voted to captain of the special teams, he’s well-respected by the team. He’s going to do fine.”

Defensive coordinator Mark Duffner said that Taylor's versatility will help.

“Adarius Taylor is a young man that I had the privilege to get to know during the pre-draft preparation when he was coming out," Duffner said. "I had kind of struck up a relationship with him. He made a serious mistake and opted to sign with another team as a free agent. Lo and behold though not too long later I wound up here in One Buc Place and he was in the room. I’ve known him for a while.

"Very versatile player. Has been trained at all of our spots at linebacker and has performed also on the special teams and he’s a football player. Like everybody we’ve got in that room, we’re expecting him to all prepare to play. Each player is asked in that room and all the other rooms to prepare to start. We’ll see how this works out this week.”

Minter is a linebacker who started 32 games for Arizona in 2015 and 2016. He could go straight from the street into the lineup.

“Well, it’s been done before," Koetter said. "Kevin's an experienced player – 44 starts, I believe, in the NFL. We played against him a couple times when he was starting for Arizona on a good defensive team. We also brought Riley Bullough back this week, who has experience.

"Kevin’s going through a crash-course basically just in terminology. He knows how to play football, but terminology is the thing he’s catching up on. Because we lost Kwon (Alexander) and Jack Cichy, we need some of those linebackers to fill in on special teams as well. I think you’ll find that some of these guys that have played a lot of football and are pros can get up to speed pretty quick.”

Bond has been on the fringe of helping the Bucs for years.

“He hasn’t been back very long," Koetter said. "This is really the start of his second week. Again, we’re fortunate that he’s a guy that’s been with us for the last couple of years, so he does know the terminology and he was already plugged into all of our special teams. Not only three new players, but we also have several players that are going to be changing roles — he’s one of those guys. Maybe a little faster than we would’ve thought, but he’s going to move into the starting lineup as a Sam linebacker. He’s going to continue to be a mainstay on special teams.”

For all the new faces, the Bucs are still expecting Lavonte David to lead.

“Lavonte David’s been a staple here and a stable, if you will — strong, if you will — person and contributed this program for a long time," Duffner said. "Yes, we are very blessed to have him in that capacity versus a person certainly who’s a ball player. Being a captain of the team and one before — his leadership, his example, his knowledge is going to be counted on heavily and it is every week. At this point, we’ve got some new roles being determined during the course of the week and his contribution as a leader and as a player is just as strong as ever.”

Koetter said the No. 1 draft pick Vita Vea is still playing his way into shape.

“Vita looks like a guy that is still getting his legs under him," Koetter said. "I think Coach Buckner said it best, he might’ve said it to you folks when he talked to you that Vita’s basically played his third preseason game or maybe he’s around his first game where everybody else is six games into the season. I mean he looks like a guy that’s still finding his way with his pad level a little bit, with his conditioning. We’ve talked about this before — riding the bike and losing 20 pounds is one thing but playing football against offensive linemen is another. We’re encouraged by the way Vita’s working at it, but I don’t think he’s where he’s going to end up being when it’s all said and done.”

Koetter said that another draft pick, second-round Carlton Davis, had a good week against Cleveland.

"I thought he had a good game last week, coming off a game that he missed due to health reasons," Koetter said. "We know we’re going to have some growing pains with those rookies in the secondary. Carlton made a big play at the end of the game — you saw his length on display there. When he came back to practice last week, he had a real solid week of practice. Especially for those rookies who haven’t been through the longer season like this, having a good week of practice and then carrying it over is more important than a guy that’s done it for many years might not have a great week of practice.”

The Bucs' second-round draft pick, Ronald Jones, may have to play more this week because Peyton Barber is limping.

“I think Peyton’s ready to go to the next level," Koetter said. "As I say, I feel like I’m saying this every week, Peyton just needs touches. He needs carries. I think we threw it 52 times out of those 90 something plays. We actually called more passes than that because Jameis had his runs. Peyton right now is on a team that’s a pass-first team with really good skill guys at wide receiver and tight end.

"He’s just got to hang in there. I don’t think Peyton is doing anything wrong and I think RoJo is doing a good job of catching up and closing the gap. Right now, we’re just a pass-first team.”





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