TAMPA — If you were surprised by the Bucs making another big change at cornerback — with starters Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins barely playing — you weren't the only one.
Rookie Jude Adjei-Barimah, who got his first career start and had six tackles in Sunday's loss, said he found out he was starting when he heard his name announced as the stadium's public address announcer unveiled the starting lineup.
"Shoot, I just heard my name called on the intro and I just ran out there through the smoke," Adjei-Barimah said. "You always have to stay ready no matter what. One of the guys could have gone down the first play of the game and I would have been next up."
Another new starter, Sterling Moore, got an interception on the game's first play, catching a ball that went off the hands of Giants WR Odell Beckham. It was the first interception by a Bucs cornerback in eight games this season. Nickel corner Alterraun Verner added another later in the game.
Banks, asked about his demotion, declined to explain why but said he respected coach Lovie Smith's decision. Smith was not asked about the move after the game.
"It's a coach's decision, and I roll with it," he said. "It's his team, his decision. I'm here to do my job. I'm not going to discuss it. It's all right. We played tough defense (Sunday) with the guys in there. Jude and Sterling played great."
MARPET INJURED: Rookie Ali Marpet, who had taken every snap at right guard in the Bucs' first seven games, injured his left ankle on the first play of the second quarter on a Doug Martin run that resulted in a fumble.
Marpet didn't return and had a boot on his left foot in the locker room after the game. He was replaced by Evan Smith, a center who hadn't played since injuring his ankle in Week 2.
"He's a vet — he's played a long time," C Joe Hawley said of Smith. "Playing a guard spot which he's not used to is impressive. He came in and played well."
COSTLY PENALTY: When the Bucs punted with 5:08 left, trailing 23-18, they needed their defense to make a stop and get the ball back. It didn't, and one costly blow was a 15-yard personal foul on DT Akeem Spence, putting the ball across midfield with a first down.
"I have to know I can't react like that," Spence said. "(Lovie Smith) grabbed me, said, 'You have to be better than that.' I gave up a free 15 yards. I have to be better than that."
THIS AND THAT: The Bucs again played without TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has missed six games with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 2. The Giants had allowed more yards to tight ends than any team in the NFL, but the Bucs managed only one catch for 17 yards to TE Cam Brate. … Connor Barth, who went 4-for-5 on field goals, became the first Bucs kicker to have at least three in four straight games. His miss was his only one in 14 attempts this season. … Charles Sims' 59-yard run was the longest by a Bucs player since Doug Martin had a 63-yarder in December.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.