By Tom Krasniqi
It was just minutes after the Miami game. The Bucs had just won their first game of the season. You would figure the players would enjoy the win for a while. But the theme in the locker room after the Dolphins victory quickly turned to Atlanta.
Gerald McCoy and Donald Penn said it over and over again-- It’s payback time. We owe Atlanta. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs will get a chance to avenge their Week 7 loss to their NFC South rivals.
“We haven’t played the other two yet. They’re the first divisional opponent we’re getting a second shot at. We owe them,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “We went down there, man, they got a win on us. We owe them. They’re coming into our house, so we’ve got to get payback.”
The Falcons beat the Bucs 31-23 in the first meeting. Slowing down Falcons QB Matt Ryan will be paramount. Ryan threw for 273 yards and three scores against the Bucs and was not sacked. Atlanta played the game without RB Steven Jackson and WR Roddy White. Both will be in the lineup on Sunday.
“He’s a great back, he’s going to get to his touches,” Bucs linebacker LaVonte David said regarding Jackson. “Even though their offense is more pass oriented, but you’ve got a great back like that you’ve got to feed him sometimes.”
Jackson has been banged up all season long and is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. Meanwhile, White has been dealing with some bumps and bruises as well. He has just 15 receptions to this point and no scores. White expects to be shadowed by Bucs CB Darrelle Revis on Sunday.
“He looks really good. He looks like old Revis,” White said during a conference call this week. This past Monday night, Revis locked down Dolphins WR Mike Wallace and held him to just four catches for 15 yards.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez has been seeing constant double-teams with White out and WR Julio Jones out for the season. The Bucs held Gonzo to just two catches for 30 yards in the first meeting. Safety Mark Barron will likely draw the task of slowing down Gonzo again.
The Falcons are dead last in running the football and the Bucs are now 5th in the league in stopping the run. If the Bucs can get any kind of pressure on Ryan, they may get the payback they’re looking for on Sunday.
As for the Friday injury report, LG Carl Nicks (foot) is out. DE Da’Quan Bowers (concussion) did not practice all week and is listed as questionable. WR Chris Owusu (foot) practiced fully the last two days but is also questionable. CB Mike Adams (knee) and SS Mark Barron (knee) practiced fully on Friday and are probable. WR Vincent Jackson (knee), RG Davin Joseph (knee), LT Donald Penn (calf), DT Akeem Spence (wrist) and CB Danny Gorrer (groin) are probable.
Injuries for the Falcons: TE Tony Gonzalez (toe) and WR Harry Douglas (knee) were limited in Friday’s practice and are both questionable. DE Malliciah Goodman (calf) is out. DT Corey Peters (knee), DT Peria Jerry (toe) RB Jason Snelling (knee) are questionable. WR Roddy White (shoulder), RB Steven Jackson (toe) and LB Sean Weatherspoon (foot) are probable.
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