TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — All-star quarterback Tom Brady is set to make his debut as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer this weekend and while it’s a road game where there will be no fans in attendance, excitement is spreading throughout the Bay area.
The Buccaneers are scheduled to play the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, their first game of the 2020 NFL season.
Sunday will also mark the first time Brady, considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time, suits up for an NFL team that’s not the New England Patriots. The quarterback spent the first 20 years of his career in New England before he signed with the Buccaneers this year.
So the big question going into Sunday’s game is, who will Tom Brady throw to for his first touchdown as a Buccaneer?
Here are some of the offensive weapons he has available:
Veteran wide receiver Mike Evans was listed as “doubtful” before he was upgraded to “questionable” for the Week 1 match-up on Friday with a hamstring injury so there’s still a chance he could play, according to head coach Bruce Arians who said it would be a “game-time decision.”
The 27-year-old, who was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2014, has recorded a total of 48 career touchdown receptions, 7,260 receiving yards and 462 receptions. Evans finished the 2019 season with 67 catches for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games.
Evans is half of what ESPN’s Bill Barnwell calls “the best one-two punch at wide receiver in the game.”
Wide receiver Chris Godwin is the other half of the “one-two punch” Barnwell referred to. The 24-year-old is entering his fourth season in the NFL and warned that the Buccaneers offense has the potential to be “pretty scary” this year.
Godwin finished the 2019 season with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games.
Last year, Godwin and Evans became the first receivers in league history to each have three games with 150 or more receiving yards in a single season.
Scotty Miller is another wide receiver who could potentially catch Tom Brady’s first touchdown pass as a Buc. Miller is entering his second year in the NFL with the Buccaneers and said he worked hard in the offseason to prepare for playing with Brady.
In his rookie season last year, Miller recorded 13 catches, 200 yards and one touchdown.
Brady is reuniting this season with former Patriots teammate – and one of his favorite targets from New England – Rob Gronkowski. The all-star tight-end came out of retirement earlier this year to play with Brady again after the QB signed with the Buccaneers.
Brady and Gronkowski have a history of success together. The two were teammates in New England for nine years and have won three Super Bowls together. Gronk has recorded 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns in the 115 regular-season games he’s appeared in throughout his career.
Arians noted late last month that Gronk was still adjusting to playing in Florida, saying the TE was probably in “New England shape” but not in “Florida shape.”
O.J. Howard, who’s entering his fourth year in the NFL with the Buccaneers, is another good option for Brady. The tight end has started 36 of the 38 games he’s played in throughout his career. He’s caught 94 career passes for 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns.
One week after the Bucs signed Gronkowski, the team picked up the fifth-year option on Howard’s contract, ending any speculation that Howard would be traded to make room for the all-star former Patriot.
Over the summer, Howard said Brady was doing a lot of teaching and felt the quarterback was able to get everyone on the same page and develop chemistry.
Veteran tight end Cameron Brate, who is tied for the fifth-most touchdown receptions in franchise history, could also be Brady’s target for his first touchdown as a Buc. Brate has played in 82 career games and has a total of 195 receptions for 2,156 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Brate battled coronavirus over the summer with mild symptoms but was able to take part in off-season workouts with Brady and several of his teammates. The tight end also admitted he was starstruck by the all-star quarterback when they first met but said throwing with Brady and talking football was “very natural.”
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