The Tampa Bay Buccaneers open up their home slate of the 2022 regular season Sunday, as they welcome the Green Bay Packers to Raymond James Stadium to renew their old NFC Central rivalry.
Here are the biggest storylines for the Bucs heading into Sunday’s game:
Brady vs. Rodgers
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Every time a pair future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks face off, it’s must-see TV.
Tom Brady has matched up against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers twice since signing with the Bucs, and he’s bested him on both occasions in 2020. Tampa Bay dominated on defense in a 38-10 victory in Tampa, then upset the Packers at Lambeau Field in the NFC title game on their way to a Super Bowl LV win.
This time, Rodgers returns to Raymond James Stadium without his top target in Davante Adams, but Brady will also be missing his best pass-catcher in Mike Evans. This game will be a test for these legendary passers, as they work with inexperienced receiver groups.
Next Man Up
(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Evans will miss Sunday’s matchup thanks to a one-game suspension for his role in last week’s fight between the Bucs and the New Orleans Saints. Evans knocked Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore to the ground after the latter exchanged heated words with Brady and shoved Leonard Fournette, leading to an all-out brawl.
Both Evans and Lattimore were ejected from the game, but only Evans got a suspension, which was upheld upon appeal earlier this week. With some of his other receivers still banged up, Brady will need someone from the bottom of the depth chart so step up, such as Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden, or even new addition Cole Beasley.
(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
The Bucs will be without at least two of their Pro Bowl wide receivers for this one, and might be missing a third. Not only is Evans out, but Chris Godwin will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury, while Julio Jones is questionable with a knee injury.
Starting left tackle Donovan Smith is doubtful for the second week in a row, though he did return to practice on Thursday before resting on Friday. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks is expected to miss about a month with a foot injury, so he’s already been ruled out for Sunday, as well.
Packers wide receiver Sammy Watkins is the only Green Bay player who has officially declared out for the game.