Bucs facing Cards defense missing three LBs
Lots more on the Bucs' QB change coming this afternoon, but one quick storyline understandably overshadowed yesterday -- the Bucs on Sunday will be facing an Arizona defense that lost three key linebackers to season-ending injuries last weekend.
Starting outside linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho were injured Sunday, and rookie Alex Okafor, who would have stepped in for Acho, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. That significantly impacts an Arizona defense that already ranked 19th in total defense and 22nd in scoring defense, with the challenge of finding new starters to step in, including players just signed this week.
"That's a chore," coach Bruce Arians said in a conference call Wednesday with the Tampa media. "I've had to replace two out of three running backs but never all three linebackers. ... We'll move some guys around, and I'm sure (defensive coordinator Todd Bowles) will handle it defensively and give us the best chance to win."
Bucs coach Greg Schiano acknowledged a potential advantage with the Cardinals' injuries and said that could play a role in his game plan.
"Will that come into any consideration? Certainly it will," he said. "It's what I always tell our guys: If the second-team player was better than the first-team player, then he'd be the first-team player. Certainly, there's a dropoff. I understand that. Again, NFL football teams have depth and have players that know their system and will be able to step in."