It is finally the day Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fans have been awaiting since the Glazer family made the much anticipated hiring of Bruce Arians and that’s the team’s Week 1 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
The game is a featured rematch from last season, in which the Buccaneers were able to defeat the 49ers soundly 27-9 behind a stellar performance from quarterback Jameis Winston. They will need another good outing from the fifth-year starting quarterback, who enters the most pivotal season of his young NFL career.
Tampa Bay will also be facing a very familiar face when it’s offense steps onto the field, as linebacker Kwon Alexander is not listed on the injury report for the 49ers and is deemed ready to go after an ACL tear last season. Another key San Francisco defensive player that has just been recently made available to the club is first round draft pick Nick Bosa, whom the team just days ago announced would be active for the game against the Buccaneers.
Also being welcomed back onto the field is 49ers’ starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who missed most of last season due to a torn ACL injury. He missed last year’s matchup against Tampa Bay and San Francisco ended up starting quarterback Nick Mullens.
Calling the plays against the 49ers’ new look defense will be Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Bryon Leftwich, who enters his second season calling plays after holding the same capacity with the Arizona Cardinals in an interim role. His debut will he met with plenty of criticism, as Arians for the first time in his NFL head coaching career will not be the primary play-caller.
A unit that will be under much scrutiny as well is the Buccaneers’ offensive line, which allowed several sacks against the Cleveland Browns just a couple weeks ago. This unit will have to play up to par if Tampa Bay has any plans of winning its Week 1 home opener.
Debuting also is Buccaneers’ new look defense under the direction of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who has incorporated a 3-4 scheme throughout the last few months. Rookie linebacker Devin White will make his first start and lining up next to him will be LaVonte David, who has been cleared to play. Also cleared to play is nose guard Vita Vea, who has been out for a good majority of training camp.
Amongst the newbies starting for the Buccaneers is rookie kicker Matt Gay, who comes from the University of Utah. Gay beat out veteran Cairo Santos in a kicking competition that lasted all throughout training camp. He will be expected to finally end the kicking woes the club has experienced throughout the last few seasons.
Kickoff at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. and the game is being nationally aired on Fox.
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