The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off the 2021 NFL season with a Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys, and for the most part, the usual suspects impressed.
Tom Brady threw four touchdowns and orchestrated a patented game-winning drive. Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin each had 100-plus receiving yards. Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdowns.
However, it was an unsung hero on the defensive side of the ball who deserves an extra look.
Practice squad call-up Andrew Adams made his impact felt
Alongside their awe-inspiring offense, the Buccaneers have one of the better defenses in the NFL. Led by a vicious set of linebackers and defensive linemen, they rarely struggle to pressure the opposing quarterback. This elite pass-rush is a major reason they knocked off Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs during last year’s Super Bowl.
With that said, it was actually a player in the secondary who popped during the Bucs’ Week 1 win, a player who isn’t even on the team’s 53-man roster.
Andrew Adams, who was called up off the Buccaneers’ practice squad for their game against Dallas, made a few nice plays during the win. The most notable came on the goal line, where he shed a block on the outside and came flying in for a TFL on Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The tackle ultimately saved a touchdown. A big play by Adams, considering how close the final score ended up being.
Adams wasn’t even supposed to play for the Buccaneers this season
So, how exactly did Adams find himself playing significant snaps for the Bucs as a practice squad call-up?
Before 2021, Adams actually spent three consecutive seasons with Tampa Bay. Primarily used as a depth piece and special teams ace, Adams carved a nice role out for himself. Believe it or not, he actually played a good number of defensive snaps during the Buccaneers’ NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers. He finished that game with five tackles and one pass defensed.
With that said, retaining Adams was not deemed a priority for Tampa Bay this past offseason. With so many other pending free agents to take care of, the Bucs happily allowed him to test free agency. Adams was signed rather quickly, scooped up by the rebuilding Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal.
However, Adams’ stay in Philly didn’t pan out. He failed to make the final 53-man roster and was released. A few days later, Adams found himself returning to Flordia, this time as a Bucs’ practice squad member.
Keep an eye on how the Buccaneers continue to use Adams
Adams is still on the Buccaneers’ practice squad despite his encouraging Week 1 performance. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t continue making appearances for Tampa Bay throughout the 2021 season.
Due to the nature of the NFL’s practice squad rules, Tampa Bay can protect and elevate Adams each week should they choose to do so. There’s no guarantee he’ll be elevated for every single game. However, based on his track record with the organization, one can only assume they’ll continue to lean on him as depth moving forward.
Brady, Gronkowski, Godwin, etc., are obviously the main pieces to the Tampa Bay puzzle. However, building an organization deep with talent from top to bottom is just as important as acquiring stars. Adams plays a role in the Buccaneers’ pursuit of another Super Bowl ring just like everyone else.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.