TAMPA — For the fleet, veteran slot receiver, fate turned on a dime.
Only a week before being thrust into the Bucs’ offensive game plan out of necessity, Cole Beasley was coaching his older son Ace’s flag football team and watching younger son Everett play T-ball. The NFL’s free-agency phase had come and gone. So had training camps, then the preseason.
Yet on Sunday, four days after being signed to the Bucs’ practice squad, the 33-year-old veteran found himself lined up in the slot for a decisive two-point try foiled by a delay-of-game penalty with 14 seconds remaining.
“It’s a big change in a week,” Beasley said.
Summoned after only three full practice days due to injuries and suspensions within the receiving corps, Beasley answered with three catches for 12 yards in the Bucs’ 14-12 defeat. Tom Brady even targeted Beasley at the outset, connecting with him for a 4-yard completion on fourth-and-1 on the opening possession.
“He did a good job for us in a short week,” Brady said.
“It’s just being ready, man,” added Beasley, who hadn’t appeared in a live game — preseason or regular season — since the Bills’ playoff loss to the Chiefs on Jan. 23. “You don’t want to come in the first game and drop a pass that Tom throws you on fourth down. So just being prepared and being ready and being where he needs me.”
Dismal debut for Walton
On the day he achieved a career milestone, Brandon Walton stubbed his toe on it at times.
Making his first NFL start, the Seminole High alumnus had a spotty debut in place of injured left tackles Donovan Smith (elbow) and Josh Wells (calf). In one two-play, second-quarter sequence, Walton was whistled for a false start on third-and-7, then allowed Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary to get past him for a sack of Brady.
But his most excruciating miscue occurred late in the third period, when he was whistled for holding after Brady somehow escaped a collapsed pocket for an 18-yard scramble.
Thanks to the installation of the new seats on the south end zone’s second level (aka the “Krewe’s Nest), attendance Sunday was announced at 69,197.
That’s a record for a Bucs game at Raymond James Stadium, eclipsing the previous mark (65,835) set in a 14-13 playoff win against Washington on Jan. 15, 2000.
Bucs coach Todd Bowles wouldn’t specifically address a pregame report by Fox’s Jay Glazer that receiver Julio Jones is dealing with a torn posterior cruciate ligament but conveyed optimism the 33-year-old All-Pro could return for next week’s game against the Chiefs.
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Jones, who didn’t practice this week, hasn’t played since the season opener against the Cowboys. “I just know he could’ve played; we held him out,” Bowles said. “We want to make sure he’s healthy. He’ll probably be back out there next week.”
Meantime, Packers rookie receiver Christian Watson missed out on his de facto homecoming. The Plant High alumnus is nursing a hamstring injury and was listed as inactive Sunday.
By the numbers
1: Career forced fumbles by Vita Vea, who knocked the ball from Packers tailback Aaron Jones at the goal line late in the first half
6: Field goals longer than 40 yards converted by Bucs kicker Ryan Succop in three games. Succop connected on two 45-yard attempts Sunday.
7: Field goals of 40 or more yards converted by Succop in all of 2021
19: Career interceptions for safety Logan Ryan, who recorded his first pick as a Buc with 7:52 to play in the third
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