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Bucs veteran Ryan Succop still consistent, if not clutch, vs. Cowboys

Notes | The 35-year-old connects on four first-half field goals in Tampa Bay’s triumph.
Bucs punter Jake Camarda (5) holds as place-kicker Ryan Succop (3) kicks a field goal in the first half of Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas.
Bucs punter Jake Camarda (5) holds as place-kicker Ryan Succop (3) kicks a field goal in the first half of Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. [ RON JENKINS | AP ]
Published Sep. 12|Updated Sep. 12

ARLINGTON, Texas — A year after nailing a winning 36-yard field goal against the Cowboys in the waning seconds, Ryan Succop delivered again Sunday in bulk — if not in the clutch.

Succop, who edged Jose Borregales for the job during a preseason competition, hit four of his five field-goal attempts in Sunday’s opening half. His successful kicks of 44, 38, 29 and 47 yards were offset only by a 36-yarder that sailed wide left.

“I didn’t stay down (on the miss),” Succop said. “It’s just one I have to learn from.”

The 47-yarder was only a yard shy of his longest of 2021. It was his second four-field-goal effort in his last four regular-season games, counting a 32-6 rout of Carolina last Dec. 26.

“I thought it was great to come down and get a lot of work,” he added. “We only had a few kicks in the preseason, so it was kind of nice to get a lot of work in tonight.”

Camarda debuts in triplicate

Few players in Bucs lore had a debut as bizarre as rookie punter Jake Camarda, who got three shots at his first NFL punt.

Making his first attempt early in the second half, Camarda’s initial try hit the mammoth AT&T Stadium video board, allowing him another try. This one sailed 43 yards, but Cowboys defensive end Tarell Basham was whistled for running into the kicker.

On the third try, Camarda hit a 63-yarder into the end zone for a touchback.

“Definitely a different situation,” said Camarda, who averaged 50.7 yards on three official attempts. “I can’t say that’s ever happened.”

Rookies active, Rudolph not

From a personnel perspective, the Bucs delivered a surprise of sorts 90 minutes before kickoff, activating rookie tight ends Cade Otton and Ko Kieft while rendering former Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph inactive.

The reason was revealed shortly thereafter.

Otton had a team-high two special-teams tackles at halftime, while Kieft was employed as both an H-back and even a true fullback for Leonard Fournette, who had his best rushing performance as a Buccaneer (21 carries, 127 yards). Both were on the field concurrently on a handful of plays when the Bucs opted for max protection.

“I was happy they had smiles on their faces and they were ready to play,” coach Todd Bowles said. “They contributed in special teams, they contributed on offense. Those guys worked hard all summer; they play smart, they play tough, and they’ve arrived early.”

Rudolph, by contrast, plays no special teams. Other inactives: receiver Scotty Miller, reserve offensive tackle Fred Johnson, second-year quarterback Kyle Trask and third-year tailback Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

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Elbow injury sidelines Smith

Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith (76) is assisted off the field after suffering an elbow injury in the first half Sunday night against the Cowboys. He didn't return.
Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith (76) is assisted off the field after suffering an elbow injury in the first half Sunday night against the Cowboys. He didn't return. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]

The refurbished Bucs offensive line, which featured three new starters Sunday night, sustained another blow when veteran left tackle Donovan Smith exited with an elbow injury with 7:50 to play in the first half and didn’t return.

Josh Wells replaced Smith. The eighth-year veteran allowed edge-rush extraordinaire Micah Parsons to blow by him for a third-down sack of Tom Brady at the Cowboys’ 11 shortly thereafter, resulting in a 29-yard Succop field goal.

Bowles had no immediate update after the game on Smith, who has started 111 of the Bucs’ 113 regular-season games since his arrival in 2015.

By the numbers

17: Rushing yards by Bucs receiver Julio Jones, on two end-arounds, in the first half.

9: Combined rushing yards by Jones the previous four seasons.

20: Career Week 1 starts for Brady, breaking the NFL mark he shared with Drew Brees.

83: Takeaways by the Bucs since Bowles took charge of the defense in 2019. That’s the NFL’s third-highest total in that span.

13,399: Career receiving yards by Jones, surpassing Torry Holt (13,382) for 16th place on the NFL’s all-time list. Jones had three catches for 69 yards Sunday.

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