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Bucs pass rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka could get first career start vs. Rams

Tampa Bay could be without Jason Pierre-Paul this weekend

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Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The LA Rams might avoid having to block pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, but that does not necessarily mean that Sean McVay’s offense is “catching a break.” That’s because the Bucs drafted a player in the first round this year who they believe has the talent to not only become their best pass rusher in the long-term, he could also just become one of Tampa’s most valuable players period.

With JPP potentially slated to be inactive with a shoulder injury, signs are pointing towards Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, the 32nd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, making the start against the Rams.

That could prove to be an even more difficult assignment for Rob Havenstein or Andrew Whitworth than facing JPP.

Though 31 players were picked ahead of him, Tryon-Shoyinka had an argument as a top-10 prospect, but he opted out of the 2020 season and hadn’t played in any game since 2019. That’s when he posted eight tackles and 12.5 TFL as a linebacker at the University of Washington. Tryon-Shoyinka measured at 6’5, 260 lbs, 34” arms, and he ran a 4.68 40-yard dash at his pro day.

Since entering camp with the Bucs, the 22-year-old Tryon-Shoyinka has turned heads more than most anticipated, throwing around Tampa’s Super Bowl-champion offensive linemen in practice on some days, then being even more devastating against preseason competition. Tryon-Shoyinka played in 21 snaps in Week 1 against the Cowboys, despite the fact that he’s buried behind JPP and Shaquill Barrett on one of the most talented rosters in the league. The Athletic’s Greg Auman described how Todd Bowles chose to utilize their rookie linebacker who is simply too good to keep off of the field right now, even going as far as to have him ... covering an elite wide receiver:

But defensive coordinator Todd Bowles found creative ways to get the rookie on the field as a third pass-rusher, without taking Pierre-Paul and Barrett off the field. They didn’t all work to perfection, but the fact that they tried so many looks is encouraging and gives future opponents that much more to prepare for in scouting the Bucs’ defensive front.

On the opening play, with Dallas starting from its 2-yard line, the Bucs opened in their nickel defense, usually meaning there’s a fifth defensive back on the field instead of a defensive lineman. But Bowles had Tryon-Shoyinka line up in the slot as the nickel corner, directly opposite their best receiver, Amari Cooper.

Tryon-Shoyinka moved all over the field against Dallas and he finished with two tackles and a QB hit. But Tryon-Shoyinka has also played in 44 special teams snaps already this year, an attribute that many first round edge rushers don’t bring to the table. This weekend, the Bucs will probably need him to do more than play special teams and to find a place on the defense wherever needed.

Right now it looks like he’s needed at his most natural and comfortable position, and that could be an unexpected issue now for the Rams to deal with.