COMMENTARY | The Mike-to-Mike connection has been severed. Tampa Bay's offense can't afford to be without its No. 2 receiver much longer.
Fourth-year wide receiver Mike Williams missed Week 6 versus the Philadelphia Eagles due to a lingering hamstring injury. And while coach Greg Schiano believes he'll return against the division-rival Atlanta Falcons, preliminary reports suggest that he's not 100 percent.
Williams sustained the hamstring injury Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals, rested during the Week 5 bye, and was only able to practice sparingly in preparation for last Sunday's game against the Eagles. Hamstring injuries are known to linger, and if someone tries to return to action quicker than their body can heal, that hamstring pull is just going to get worse.
Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon needs all of his offensive weapons healthy. He's inexperienced, and is still learning to grasp the speed of the NFL. Williams is someone he looks to in the red zone. They showed good chemistry in practice, and it was Williams who caught Glennon's lone touchdown pass Week 4 against the Cardinals.
Surprisingly, Williams returned to practice Wednesday morning, but his status for this week's game against the Falcons is uncertain. If he is unable to dress, second-year receiver Chris Owusu will man the outside position opposite Vincent Jackson.
Owusu started last Sunday against the Eagles and caught three balls for 28 yards. He's nearly the same build as Williams -- 6-foot-2, 200-pounds -- but what Owusu lacks in physicality, he makes up for in quickness.
If not for a history of concussions in college, he would've been drafted out of Stanford with a high pick. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds (best among wide receivers), recorded a 40.5-inch vertical leap (fifth-best in his draft class) and finished the 20-yard shuffle in 4.11 seconds (fourth-best), yet went undrafted.
Atlanta's secondary is vulnerable to the deep ball. They allow an average of 275 passing yards a game and opposing quarterbacks have combined for a 108.1 Quarterback Rating -- the second-highest in the league. Furthermore, in five games, they've allowed 18 passing completions of 20 yards of more.
Tampa Bay will look to add to those numbers this Sunday. Even if they are without Williams, look for OC Mike Sullivan to open up the playbook and give Glennon the green light to throw some downfield passes.
This offense has been too conservative. It's showing up on film. And teams are noticing. Tampa Bay is the only team in the league that has yet to record an offensive touchdown in the second half.
The Bucs need a healthy offense. They need to develop Glennon. And, most importantly, Tampa Bay needs a victory. They'll look for their first this Sunday in Atlanta.
James LoPresti lives in Tampa and has a journalism degree from the University of South Florida. He has eight years experience working in print media with the Tampa Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @JLoPresti3114.
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