Jul 26, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea (50) looks on at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs DT Vea placed on reserve/COVID-19 list

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put defensive tackle Vita Vea on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday.

Vea, 25, already is on injured reserve after fracturing his leg in a Week 5 loss at Chicago.

The 12th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Vea has registered 73 tackles, 19 quarterback hits and 7.5 sacks in 34 career games.

The Bucs also activated linebacker Jack Cichy from injured reserve and officially placed center A.Q. Shipley on IR.

Cichy has been out since Week 5 with a hamstring injury. Shipley sustained what coach Bruce Arians indicated is a career-ending neck injury in Monday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Tampa Bay (7-4) hosts the Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET).

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley (53) against the Carolina Panthers at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arians: Bucs C Shipley could have ‘career-ending’ neck injury

Tampa Bay center A.Q. Shipley likely suffered a career-ending neck injury Monday night, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said late Wednesday.

Arians originally said Shipley suffered a stinger and said it “looks like he’s going to be OK,” after the eight-year NFL veteran was hurt late in the 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Arians gave a more dire assessment Wednesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

“A.Q. Shipley appears to have had a career-ending injury,” he said. “And I feel bad because I love A.Q. He’s one of my favorite players of all-time and was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that might have just got aggravated in his neck.”

Shipley, 34, is in his first season with the Buccaneers but previously played under Arians with the Arizona Cardinals from 2015-17.

Shipley started the past two games at center after Ryan Jensen was moved to left guard to fill in for the injured Ali Marpet (concussion protocol). He played all 80 offensive snaps in the Week 10 win at Carolina and missed only two of 69 snaps against the Rams.

Originally a 2009 seventh-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Penn State, Shipley has played in 110 games (72 starts) with the Indianapolis Colts (2012, 2014), Baltimore Ravens (2013), Cardinals and Buccaneers.

Jensen likely will be back at center when Tampa Bay (7-4) hosts the Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs, Bucs prepare for quarterback battle

Creating a system that NFL players want to be part of is an attribute worth noting about the Kansas City Chiefs.

Claiming a Super Bowl championship last season helped create such an atmosphere.

Locking in a generational quarterback to a 10-year deal worth a cool half-billion dollars required a substantial investment. Retaining other standout contributors also generates the kind of harmony that reflects positively on the organizational skills of general manager Brett Veach.

“We’ve built chemistry with bringing the same guys back, year-in and year-out, so we know where each other is on that football field,” Patrick Mahomes said while looking ahead to a Sunday matchup pitting the Chiefs (9-1) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) at Tampa, Fla.

Complications, however, have surfaced in the Kansas City laboratory.

Not within the offense, mind you. Mahomes is clicking along at the pace of an MVP candidate, while Travis Kelce ranks third among NFL receivers with 896 yards and could threaten the NFL’s season yardage record by a tight end.

Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill generated 100 yards receiving in each of the last two games when the Chiefs needed every inch. Their defense allowed 31 points on average in those wins, requiring Mahomes and Co. to outproduce Carolina and Las Vegas.

While it has struggled in several areas defensively, Kansas City is particularly susceptible in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 75.9 percent of those penetrations, the worst rate in the league.

“Mentally we’re kind of upset because of these last two games we’ve had,” said Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, “but I wouldn’t say we’re down.”

Good thing, considering the Chiefs will be facing a legendary quarterback capable of big heroics.

For the Bucs, though, the focus seems to be more bent on finding ways for Tom Brady to reload.

“We’ve got guys open, we’ve just missed them,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. “And there are times when coverage dictates you go to that guy. I think we can do a better job of utilizing the deep ball in our game plan.”

Brady has gone 0-for-19 in the last four games on pass attempts of 20-plus yards.

While that deficiency might seem glaring, Brady could still be adept at exposing seams underneath. Kansas City allowed a .740 completion percentage in its last two games.

The Bucs have not yet capitalized on the breakaway skills of Antonio Brown, the four-time All-Pro receiver who has played three games since he was acquired mid-season and is averaging 8.7 yards on 18 receptions.

“It’s just a matter of hitting him,” Arians said. “He’s doing a great job of running after the catch and within his role, he’s doing a really good job. It’s just when he’s gone deep, we’re not hitting him.”

Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean was placed on concussion protocol following Monday’s 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. He is questionable for Sunday’s game, along with center A.Q. Shipley and guard Ali Marpet.

The Chiefs placed wide receiver Byron Pringle (ankle) on injured reserve but could retain another wideout, Sammy Watkins (hamstring), who has missed the last five games.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes the ball as Carolina Panthers defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (97) pressures in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Brady, Bucs rebound with win over Panthers

Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns and scored on a run and running back Ronald Jones II burst free for a 98-yard touchdown scamper as the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers bounced back for a 46-23 victory against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

The Buccaneers (7-3), who racked up 544 yards of total offense, swept the season series from Carolina, both times following a loss to the New Orleans Saints by beating the Panthers.

Brady, who was coming off one the worst performances of his 21-year career with three interceptions in last Sunday night’s 38-3 home setback to New Orleans, was 28-for-39 for 341 yards.

The Panthers (3-7) lost their fifth consecutive game despite quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s two touchdown passes. He was 18-for-24 for 136 yards and an interception before exiting with a leg or knee injury on a fourth-quarter sack with about five minutes left.

Jones finished with 192 rushing yards on 23 carries, sparking the team’s huge second half.

Leading 20-17, the Buccaneers were backed up at their own 2-yard line. Jones burst up the middle and ended up in the end zone at the other end of the stadium.

On the next snap, Jason Pierre-Paul intercepted Bridgewater. That led to Ryan Succop’s field goal from 21 yards out for a 29-17 lead.

Tampa Bay went up 32-17 on Succop’s fourth field goal of the game, but Trenton Cannon returned the kickoff 98 yards to the Tampa Bay 4. Bridgewater converted on a 3-yard touchdown run with 11:23 remaining, though his two-point conversion pass was incomplete.

The Buccaneers answered with a nine-play 75-yard drive, with Brady scoring on a 1-yard streak. His final TD pass went to Rob Gronkowski for 7 yards.

The teams were tied 17-17 at halftime.

With so much attention on how Brady would respond this week, it was Bridgewater who had a strong start. He completed his first 13 throws, matching a career-best string.

Brady threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans in the back of the end zone as the Buccaneers tied the score with 35 seconds left in the half.

Carolina, playing without injured running back Christian McCaffrey, went up 14-7 on DJ Moore’s 24-yard touchdown play on a receiver screen. That drive took just four plays to cover 75 yards.

Succop hit a 23-yard field goal for Tampa Bay before Joey Slye’s 46-yarder for the Panthers.

Earlier, the Panthers scored first on Bridgewater’s 7-yard pass to Colin Thompson following a Buccaneers turnover. Tampa Bay was even after Brady connected with Cameron Brate, who made a diving 5-yard touchdown catch.

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (27) against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs RB Jones rushes for 98-yard touchdown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II ran into the history books with a 98-yard touchdown gallop on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

Only two players in NFL history have produced 99-yard runs — Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys in 1982 and Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans in 2018. The Green Bay Packers’ Ahman Green is the only other player with a 98-yard run, in 2003.

Lined up in his own end zone midway through the third quarter, Jones took a first-down handoff up the middle, slipped an arm tackle at the 12 and outraced the Carolina defense to the end zone. The score gave Tampa Bay a 26-17 lead with 7:39 left in the quarter.

The previous longest run in Buccaneers history was an 84-yard touchdown by Doug Martin during a 45-17 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 22, 2015. The longest offensive play in franchise history was a 95-yard pass from Josh Freeman to Vincent Jackson against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 21, 2012.

Jones, 23, was Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. His longest carry before Sunday was 49 yards.

–Field Level Media