The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to a disappointing 2-4 with Sunday's 30-27 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The mounting losses in what was supposed to be a season on the rise for the dormant franchise has boiled up frustration among the players.
Safety T.J. Ward, who signed in Tampa after being released by the Denver Broncos, vented his discontent to reporters Sunday, griping about his playing time in the Bucs' defensive rotation.
"I came here to be an impact player," said Ward, via Jenna Laine of ESPN. "I can't do that if I'm not out on the field."
Ward played in just 24 of 67 defensive snaps Sunday. The veteran has been in a rotation with rookie Justin Evans, Chris Conte and Keith Tandy, who returned this week. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith has his safeties playing series at a time. According to Next Gen Stats, Ward did not play a snap in the first and fourth quarters (Buffalo had five series combined in those frames). While Tandy played just five snaps, Conte played 38 (57 percent). Evans played every defensive snap in Sunday's tilt.
Despite signing to play what he thought would be a big role, Ward has been relegated to a timeshare.
"You have to ask Mike Smith and [coach] Dirk Koetter about that, but I'm at my wit's end," Ward said. "I did not come here to rotate. I did not come here to be a part-time player."
The 30-year-old added that the hip injury that held him out of Weeks 4 and 5 isn't an issue.
Ward isn't the only Bucs player openly griping about playing time. Chris Baker, who signed from Washington this year, tweeted his displeasure.
Winning is the elixir that cures all snap-related illnesses. With the Bucs in the midst of a three-game skid, the team needs to find a W before the mutiny becomes a full-blown outbreak.