As Bucs, Saints meet again, so much has changed

Published Dec. 11, 2015

TAMPA -- The Bucs and Saints met in Week 2, with Tampa Bay nearly losing a 23-7 fourth-quarter lead before holding off a late drive for a 26-19 victory. It was Tampa Bay's first win of the season and its first divisional win since 2013, a sign of the success to follow on the way to a 6-6 record.

But in those three months, so much has changed for the Bucs. Consider:

-- K Connor Barth was unsigned then -- it was rookie Kyle Brindza who kicked four field goals (including a 55-yarder) against the Saints. He'd miss enough in the next two games to be cut.

-- CB Jude Adjei-Barimah was on the Bucs' practice squad then -- it was Tim Jennings who led all Bucs corners with five tackles against the Saints. He, too, would struggle and be cut a month later.

-- TE Cameron Brate was on the Saints' practice squad then -- an injury to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the Saints game would prompt Tampa Bay to sign Brate, and he has stepped up with three touchdown catches in a breakout season.

-- DT Akeem Spence was on the physically unable to perform list recovering from back surgery. The top tackler among defensive tackles was Clinton McDonald, who had six against the Saints but is now on injured reserve with a pectoral injury.

-- WR Mike Evans, recovering from a hamstring injury, played against the Saints but had no catches, targeted for three passes. The leading receiver that day was Louis Murphy, now on injured reserve after tearing his ACL.

-- LB Kwon Alexander played every snap against the Saints, with eight tackles. He's now suspended, so the Bucs will likely start Bruce Carter, who had no tackles in the first Saints game, playing 13 snaps on defense.

-- Saints RB Mark Ingram rushed 16 times for 53 yards and a touchdown -- he went on injured reserve this week with a shoulder injury. The Saints will now lean on C.J. Spiller, who had just three carries for 7 yards in the first Bucs game.