The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be trying to return to the Super Bowl. They’ll be short-handed in the secondary without their rookie safety.
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to Lambeau Field, history could be on their side. A win against the Green Bay Packers would not only send them back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2003, but they’d also be the first team in league history to host their own Super Bowl.
However, the Buccaneers will be out one of their focal players in Todd Bowles’ defense.
Rookie safety Antoine Winfield will be out for Sunday’s showcase against the Packers with an ankle injury. A late name added to the injury report on Friday, some believed that he would be able to make a jump back in time.
Winfield, who’s played all 18 games and finished third on the team with 91 tackles during the regular season, has been one of the focal players of the Buccaneers’ playoff run. In two playoff games, the Minnesota product tallied 11 total tackles and a forced fumble.
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Winfield’s role is best used as a multi-talented defensive back that isn’t limited to playing the run. More recently, the former second-round pick has developed into one of the league’s better coverage safeties, specifically against tight ends.
Winfield, who was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team, became one of the top playmakers in the Bucs’ defense. His forced fumble in New Orleans helped Tampa Bay pick up a 30-20 win against the NFC South rival. Mike Edwards is now expected to expand his role as the team’s starting strong safety.
Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal will have Devante Adams seeing double coverage. That means that Robert Tonyan will likely be the name to watch for in the passing game. Naturally, Winfield’s coverage skills would be a perfect match for the breakout tight end.
Instead, Edwards will have to be the man in command to limit the plays across the middle of the field.