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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sudden starters carry Bucs' hopes

Do you feel better about the Bucs after they took the Seahawks to overtime?

Yes - Best effort of the season
Somewhat - They're still trying
No - Moral victories don't count
I gave up on them weeks ago

Total Votes: 1299

TAMPA — They are halfway to 0-16.

They are all the way to frustration.

And yet …

“There are a lot of good things on that tape,'' Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said on Monday in the wake of a 27-24 overtime road loss against the Seattle Seahawks, when Tampa Bay found yet another way to lose, surrendering a three-touchdown lead for only the fourth time in franchise history.

When viewed through a half-full microscope, Sunday's game showed three offensive rookies who were practically invisible when the season began.

Quarterback Mike Glennon, third-rounder.

Running back Mike James, sixth-rounder.

Tight end Tim Wright, undrafted.

If the Bucs are going to win this season, that trio must come up big. It certainly did at Seattle.

Glennon produced his best effort, going 17 of 23 for 168 yards and two touchdowns (and his third straight game without an interception).

James galloped for 158 yards and threw a 2-yard jump-pass touchdown.

Wright had four receptions for 58 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown, giving him 23 catches in the past five games.

“I'm a professional now,'' Wright said. “I go out there and prepare as a professional. If it's coming to me, I feel like it's an opportunity and I try to take full advantage of it.

“Coming in as an undrafted free agent, you have the odds stacked against you. But I feel like as long as you work hard, you keep faith, you take coaching, you carry yourself as a professional, you go out and do your job, good things will come.''

Last season, it was rookie running back Doug Martin who showed the way, rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns.

But with Martin still out with a shoulder injury Sunday, it was left to James, who produced a 158-yard game in his second NFL start, a performance made all the more remarkable by the fact he never had a 100-yard game at the University of Miami (his last one was 2008, as a Polk County high school player).

Schiano said it's possible that Martin could return for next Monday night's nationally televised home game against the Miami Dolphins.

But if he can't, Schiano said, “We want as many quality football players on the 46 (player game-day roster) as we can. That's how you win games. With the emergence of Mike … it's a good thing to know we have two quality running backs.''

Schiano said the James-led backfield, on 38 attempts, had no negative rushing plays.

“That's one of the most promising things,'' Schiano said. “No negative runs. All positive runs. Whether it was just a gain of 1, there were no second-and-11's or second-and-12's or second-and-13's. The running game, that's what gave us a chance early on.''

Meanwhile, Glennon was close to finishing the job, but instead sunk to his fifth straight defeat as Tampa Bay's starter.

“Going into that environment, Mike was not at all intimidated,'' Schiano said. “Quarterback rating of above 120. Those are things getting us excited and encouraged.

“That's what we have to do. That's how we have to play the game. I'm mad at myself for not getting us there sooner.''

In his first four starts, Glennon attempted 43, 43, 44 and 51 passes.

Sunday, especially in the first half, there was balance and efficiency.

“The game-manager thing is kind of a left-handed compliment to a quarterback and Mike is doing a heck of a lot more than that,'' Schiano said. “At the end of the game, we had receivers open and he was ready to deliver the ball, but we couldn't protect.''

“He plays well above his classification of being a rookie,'' Wright said. “He's not a vet yet classification-wise, but he definitely carries the team like a vet. He did a great job with getting us settled in the huddle and with the crowd noise. Those type of things probably get another rookie unsettled.''

Halfway home, Glennon, James and Wright are three of the bright spots. No longer invisible, if the Bucs are to win this season, they will be in plain sight, right in the middle of things.

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Twitter: @JJohnstonTBO

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