NEW ORLEANS — A month ago, Breshad Perriman seemed a training camp afterthought.
Sidelined for much of August by a hamstring injury, the 29-year-old journeyman could only watch as a handful of rookie receivers seized their respective opportunities to leap-frog him on the depth chart. But while they could take his reps, they couldn’t take his reputation — as a big-bodied, big-moment performer.
Hence the reason he stayed on the roster. And hence the reason Tom Brady looked his way at a pivotal moment Sunday.
Perriman’s 28-yard scoring catch with 7:41 remaining provided the go-ahead points for the Bucs in their 20-10 triumph at Caesars Superdome.
“That’s why we kept him,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. “At the end of cut day, he can do everything, and he comes up big at the right time.”
Perriman’s reception came nine months after he walked off the Bills at Raymond James Stadium, turning a short Brady throw into a 58-yard touchdown in a 33-27 overtime triumph. On Sunday, Perriman (three catches, 45 yards) said he released so effectively that he turned his initial route into a go pattern, allowing Brady — well protected by a makeshift line — to find him in the right corner of the end zone.
“That’s my guy, man,” fellow receiver Mike Evans said. “He works so hard, made a great play on the first touchdown, which really sparked everything after that.”
The concerns about the average age of the Bucs roster — the oldest in the NFL at 27.15 years — grew more substantial by halftime Sunday.
Two more veterans, 32-year-old defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and 31-year-old reserve left tackle Josh Wells, exited in the first half with foot and calf injuries, respectively. Reserve tailback Giovani Bernard, 30, didn’t return after injuring an ankle in the second half.
Already sidelined before kickoff were 33-year-old left tackle Donovan Smith (elbow) and 33-year-old receiver Julio Jones (knee), both of whom were deemed inactive for the game. “(Smith) didn’t practice all week,” Bowles said. “So we kind of got a feel at the end of the week he wasn’t going to play.”
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Bowles had no postgame update on Wells and indicated it is too early to ascertain Smith’s availability for next week’s home opener against the Packers. Seminole High alumnus Brandon Walton replaced Wells, logging the first offensive snaps of his NFL career. Walton appeared on four special teams plays last week against the Cowboys.
Despite a wonky 26-yard attempt in the fourth quarter, rookie punter Jake Camarda continued validating the fourth-round pick his team invested in him. Camarda averaged 40.6 yards on his other five attempts, pinning three inside the 20.
His most critical effort: a lofty 49-yarder from his own end zone with 1:56 remaining in the first half. The excessive hang time, allowing the Bucs coverage to scurry downfield, resulted in a 6-yard loss by returner Deonte Harty. New Orleans took over at its 31 and failed to score.
Meantime, veteran Ryan Succop nailed two 47-yard field goals and is perfect on four tries from 44 yards or longer this season. Succop totaled seven field goals of 40 or more yards (in 10 tries) in all of 2021.
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