Bucs cornerback Johnthan Banks has gone from being a near-constant starter in his first two NFL seasons to being relegated to special-teams play in the last month.
There was painful irony Friday, as the Bucs held their final practice preparing for Sunday's home game against Atlanta and Banks had a black scout-team jersey on with the No. 11, meaning he was simulating Falcons star receiver Julio Jones. Banks lost his starting job after the first Falcons game five weeks ago, a game in which Jones caught the tying touchdown with 17 seconds left, though the Bucs would escape with a 23-20 overtime victory.
Jones had a huge day against the Bucs with 12 catches for 162 yards, though the Bucs were able to strip a fumble from him on a day when takeaways were the key to a Bucs victory. Jones hasn't scored in three games since, but Banks has had it worse -- he's played exactly two defensive snaps in the last four games, with new cornerbacks Sterling Moore and Jude Adjei-Barimah getting nearly all the snaps at cornerback.
Banks had a season-high seven tackles in that Falcons game, and his season high last year came in the second game against Atlanta. But the challenge of stopping Jones will go to other cornerbacks this Sunday.