TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have caught a big break Saturday afternoon when the New Orleans Saints announced that tight end Jimmy Graham will not play in Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium.
Graham had been listed as questionable with an ankle injury, but the Saints sent out an email Saturday saying that he did not fly with the team to Tampa.
That’s going to make life a lot easier for Tampa Bay’s defense because Graham presents unique matchup problems for any team he faces. His size, speed and athleticism make it difficult for linebackers or defensive backs to cover him.
Backup David Thomas likely will get the start. Thomas is a versatile tight end with dependable hands, but he doesn’t have anything close to the big-play capability Graham possesses.
Third-string tight end Daniel Graham likely will get playing time as the second tight end, but he’s much more of a blocker than a receiving threat.
That should allow Tampa Bay’s linebackers and defensive backs to devote more attention to New Orleans’ wide receivers and running back Darren Sproles.