Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

Seahawks-Bucs: Will Russell Wilson feast on Bucs secondary?

TAMPA — The Bucs could face one of the NFL's top quarterbacks Sunday without two of their top three cornerbacks.

Nickel corner Jude Adjei-Barimah will begin serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and the Bucs practiced Wednesday without Pro Bowl player Brent Grimes, who left Sunday's win against the Chiefs early with a quadriceps injury.

Those absences would make it more challenging to stop Seattle's Russell Wilson, who has only two interceptions this season while guiding Seattle to a 7-2-1 record.

"Make no mistake: Russell Wilson makes Seattle go," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Wednesday. "This guy, he's an unbelievable playmaker. Almost impossible to sack him. … They've only turned it over six times all year. … His accuracy with balls, running right, throwing left, running left, throwing right, incredible. If Jameis (Winston) was making some of those throws, we'd be screaming at him."

If Grimes can't go, the Bucs would likely start Alterraun Verner, who filled in well after Grimes' injury Sunday, opposite rookie Vernon Hargreaves. The nickel spot is harder to project; seldom-used Josh Robinson and rookie Javien Elliott, called up from the practice squad Tuesday, are the only other cornerbacks on the roster. Rookie Ryan Smith, who has worked at safety all season but hasn't played a snap on defense, played cornerback in college last season at North Carolina Central.

GETTING BACK: The Bucs had two injured running backs back at practice: Jacquizz Rodgers, who has missed three games with a foot injury, and Charles Sims, who has spent six weeks on injured reserve with a knee injury and can't return to the playing field for another two weeks.

HONORED: Rookie K Roberto Aguayo, who went 4-for-4 on field goals in Sunday's win, was named the NFC special teams player of the week. He is the first Bucs kicker to win the honor since Matt Bryant in 2008 and the first Bucs rookie to be honored since kick returner Clifton Smith in 2008. The only other Bucs rookie kicker to earn the honor was Martin Gramatica in 1999.

Aguayo has made a considerable turnaround since struggling in the first five games of the season. Since the Bucs' bye in Week 6, he has gone 9-for-10 on field goals and 12-for-13 on extra points, ranking among the NFL's top 10 scorers in that span.

THIS AND THAT: LG Kevin Pamphile, who has missed the Past two games, remains in the league's concussion protocol, though he practiced with full participation. … Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on injured Bucs G J.R. Sweezy, who won't play this season due to a back injury: "He's a great competitor. He's tough as hell. He was a real leader in our program. They will see that when he gets back, that he's a fantastic guy to have on your team."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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