TAMPA — To say this is foreign territory for Mark Barron would be an understatement.
Tampa Bay's second-year safety served as a team captain at Alabama, where Barron won a pair of national championships and played for an annual SEC powerhouse. But after winning six of his first 10 games as a pro, Barron and the Buccaneers have dropped eight of their past nine matchups heading into Sunday's home game against Arizona.
“It's most definitely difficult because I hate losing,'' Barron said Monday, after a 23-3 setback at New England left Tampa Bay alone in the NFC South basement. “I hate it. It really bothers me. So, to be 0-3, it bothers me a little bit, but I'm fine. We'll bounce back as a team. But it most definitely hurts. I've never been 0-3 in my life. It's a new feeling for me, but I don't plan on getting used to it.”
Playing closer to the line of scrimmage this season, Barron has posted 24 tackles in the past two weeks and picked off Tom Brady in the Bucs end zone Sunday.
While the offense has been limited to 34 points in three games, Tampa Bay's defense is playing far more effectively than the 2012 unit, especially in the red zone.
“I don't think we have a problem with confidence,'' Barron said. “We know what type of players we have on this team. We're still a confident team, we just have to put it all together. As long as we come out and execute and everybody's on the same page, then we have the players to make whatever play needs to be made. We believe in the scheme, so we've just got to come out and execute.”
Making their move
Facing a Monday afternoon deadline, the Bucs activated speedy RB Jeff Demps from the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list and placed TE Luke Stocker (hip) on Injured Reserve.
Demps, acquired from the Patriots in an April trade involving RB LeGarrette Blount, played 51 games for the University of Florida, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and adding 57 catches. A member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic 4x100 relay team that won a silver medal, Demps could also be utilized as a kick returner.
Schiano said it was too early in the week to fully evaluate three players who were hurt Sunday. WR Vincent Jackson suffered a rib injury, DT Gerald McCoy was dealing with a sore left ankle and WR Mike Williams hurt his upper leg.
McCoy, who walked off the field gingerly after the game, said his ankle felt fine on Monday.
Schiano said TE Tom Crabtree, who signed as a free agent from Green Bay, may have recovered enough from an ankle injury to make his regular-season Bucs debut against the Cardinals.
Josh Freeman's passer rating (59.3) ranks last in the league among the 33 quarterbacks that qualify. ...Doug Martin's 73 carries lead all runners through Week 3 and he is second in the NFL behind Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (395) with 297 rushing yards. ...Besides Jackson (15) and Williams (11), no other Tampa Bay player has more than four receptions. ...Arizona's opponents are averaging 26 points per game and opposing quarterbacks boast a 102.0 passer rating.