Directly after the 2012 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were give high grades by most media outlets. With three picks in the first two rounds, it was easy to see the upside potential from these rookies.
No one knew just how good and how quickly safety Mark Barron, running back Doug Martin and linebacker Lavonte David would explode.
David leads the team in tackles, with Barron behind him in third place. Martin, with 794 yards rushing, is third in the NFL in yards. This trio has performed beyond expectations.
"The things they've been able to do so early on have been extraordinary,'' third-year defensive tackle Gerald McCoy told the Tampa Tribune Monday, less than 24 hours after Tampa Bay beat the Raiders 42-32 to snap an 0-5 mark at Oakland.
"Lavonte had 16 tackles yesterday. That's unbelievable. I was in amazement the whole time riding out to the airport after the game. He's all over the field and that's why we call him 'The Flash.' "
Martin rushed for 251 yards in Oakland and scored four touchdowns, three of 40 yards or more. He's also been involved in the passing game, catching 20 passes this year. Only two players on the Bucs have more receptions.
All three players are producing at Pro Bowl levels, and all three look like first-round draft picks.
Peria Jerry's knee injury isn't serious, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He may return by week's end.
According to the Charlotte Observer, DeAngelo Williams' 30-yard touchdown run should have been disallowed.
The Charlotte Observer thinks Ron Rivera needs a big comeback in the second half to save his job.
The defense was far from perfect, but WWL-TV believes Monday's performance was enough to build on.
As if there weren't enough distractions surrounding the Saints, Sean Payton's contract status caught many players off guard, reports the Times-Picayune.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Demar Dotson told the Tampa Bay Times that the offensive line was "up to the challenge" of staying strong without Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph.
The Tampa Tribune writes that there's never been an offense like the 2012 Buccaneers in Tampa Bay before.