Bucs-Falcons journal: The Bucs’ biggest losses may be yet to come

Bucs running back Doug Martin (22) is taken to the locker room during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
Bucs running back Doug Martin (22) is taken to the locker room during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Published November 26 2017
Updated November 26 2017

ATLANTA — As tough as the loss on the field was Sunday, the Bucs are dealing with several potential losses in the locker room, with four players leaving the 34-20 loss to the Falcons with injuries and not returning.

RB Doug Martin and S T.J. Ward left the game with concussions, and DT Clinton McDonald (back) and special-teams captain Josh Robinson (hamstring) also left.

"We had a couple of guys that are probably going to be in the concussion protocol and we have six or seven guys that are banged up," coach Dirk Koetter said. "But I tip my hat to the guys, because we were making multiple substitutions; guys in and out at different positions at different times."

Add those four to the four players the Bucs had inactive with injuries — QB Jameis Winston (shoulder), DE Robert Ayers (concussion), OL Evan Smith (concussion) and CB Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring) — and they could be as short-handed as they’ve been all season next week with a game at Green Bay.

MORE INJURIES: The Bucs were down to five healthy offensive linemen late in the first half, with RT Demar Dotson and C Ali Marpet both sidelined with knee injuries.

The Bucs plugged in Joe Hawley at center — in his first playing time of the season — and Caleb Benenoch at right tackle, until the two starters were able to return. The Bucs also lost Kevin Pamphile to injury, with Hawley subbing in at guard.

HOMECOMING: Martin’s injury gave rare playing time to backup Peyton Barber, who had modest overall numbers — 7 yards on five carries — but managed to score two touchdowns, after entering the game with one in his first 25 NFL games.

His scores came in a loss, but they were still special for Barber, who is from the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta and had about 20 friends and family in attendance.

"It’s very special, something you think about growing up when you’re a kid," Barber said. "At the same time, we didn’t get the win."

EARLY MISSES: The Bucs got just two touchdowns in five red-zone opportunities, with early passes to Mike Evans going incomplete in the end zone as Tampa Bay settled for field goals on the way to a 20-6 halftime deficit.

"Very tough. Plays I usually make," Evans said. "Tough plays, but I can make them."

Evans has gone four games without a touchdown and hasn’t had a 100-yard game yet this season. For the sixth time in seven games, the Bucs failed to score a touchdown in the first half, and the frustration extends to the entire offense.

"I’m not the one to point fingers at anybody — we just have to make more plays as an offense," Evans said.

THIS AND THAT: The Bucs had zero sacks for the fourth time this season and had only one pass defensed out of 36 passes from the Falcons, that coming from DT Chris Baker. ... Julio Jones had 268 total yards from scrimmage Sunday — a Bucs opponent record 253 receiving and another 15 rushing. That breaks the Bucs opponent record for yards from scrimmage, which Detroit’s Barry Sanders had held since 1994 with a 253-yard game (237 rushing, 16 receiving). ... TE Cameron Brate has nearly disappeared from the Bucs offense. He had one catch for 6 yards Sunday — on just two targets — and has a total of four catches for 37 yards over the past four games. He had at least four catches in each of the previous six games before that.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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