There are new faces at every position in the special teams unit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Get to know them and the potential starters in 2019.
The last part of our series, we get to the special teams unit and look to break down their depth at kicker, punter, returners, and long-snapper. The unit as a whole got a massive face lift this offseason all across the board as the majority of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who returned kicks and punts last year are gone, they signed a new punter, and drafted a new kicker to have a camp competition.
Last season, only two players returned punts for the Buccaneers, and both of those guys are now gone as DeSean Jackson was shipped off to the Philadelphia Eagles for the pick that turned into Scotty Miller, and Adam Humphries signed a four-year deal worth $9 million annually with the Tennessee Titans. Senior staff writer for the team Scott Smith identified a guys on May 3 who could fill the role in 2019: Sean Murphy-Bunting. Quoting special teams assistant Amos Jones:
“Special teams guys, we usually ask the first question: Who’s a baseball player? And [Murphy]-Bunting is a baseball player. He was a centerfielder, which is usually a pretty good indicator of a guy that can track the ball in the air” (Jones via Buccaneers).
The second-round cornerback is a potential replacement for Humphries and Jackson on punt returns, and Jones identified another rookie, Scotty Miller as his potential kicker returner as well, stating “… he was more of a kick return guy from a statistical standpoint, so we’ve got to kind of see how he does.” Miller joins a crowded kick return room that is returning a handful of players as well as has lost some.
Currently still on the roster in Tampa Bay who have experience returning kicks are wide receiver Bobo Wilson and running back Dare Ogunbowale. Running backs Shaun Wilson and Jacquizz Rodgers also returned kicks last year, but are no longer with the Buccaneers in 2019. Will Wilson and Ogunbowale still make the cut of the final-53 man roster, or will Miller step into the role of kick returner as well?