Todd Bowles Makes Troubling Comment About Buccaneers

Todd Bowles

Getty Todd Bowles acknowledged a concerning lack of depth at a key position versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

When Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said “we’re extremely thin” when it comes to linebacker on December 16, it could apply to the whole defense.

The Bucs won’t have cornerback Jamel Dean (toe) for for Sunday, December 18, against the Cincinnati Bengals, and another three defensive backs might not play. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (quadriceps) and safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) and Mike Edwards (hamstring) all remain questionable for the Bengals game.

Tampa Bay’s secondary got shredded last weekend as 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy completed 76.2% of his passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Now, the Bucs face the fourth-rated passing attack in Cincinnati, which averages 268.1 yards per game.

Bucs linebackers Carl Nassib (pectoral) and Gernard Avery (oblique) sitting out won’t help matters either. Linebacker Joe Tyron-Shoyinka (hip) as a likely game-time decision makes things all the more challenging.

“We’re extremely thin. We worked a couple people there this week,” Bowles said.

The Bucs worked out linebackers Azur Kamara, Elijah Ponder, Hamilcar Rashed Jr., and Wyatt Ray this week. Rashed signed with the practice squad.

With the thinness at linebacker, that could mean an opportunity for practice squad member Charles Snowden. The Bucs signed the former Virginia standout in November.

“He’s got length, he’s got athleticism. [He is] still young in the system, understanding some things,” Bowles said. “If he does play we’ll have to tweak some things for him so he can play fast.”

Tampa Bay will also have to adjust in the trenches with nose tackle Vita Vea (calf) out for the Bengals game. Rakeem Nunez-Roches will need to step up  in that role.

Julio Jones in Doubt for Bengals Game

For an offense stuck in neutral, the Bucs can ill afford to lose star wide receiver Julio Jones.

The Bucs list Jones as questionable due to a knee injury after he missed two days of practice and had limited participation on December 16. Jones didn’t pile on big numbers with five catches for 38 yards in a Week 16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but he played season-high 72% of the offensive snaps.

Jones’ presence on the field gives quarterback Tom Brady another option and takes pressure off of fellow receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Jones has 22 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns this season amid only eight games played due to a torn PCL in his knee.

A free agent acquisition in July, the Bucs looked for Jones to regain his Pro Bowl form after a  couple of injury-riddled seasons with the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons. Jones has seven Pro Bowl appearances and two first team All-Pro honors in his career.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, key injuries well beyond Jones linger on offense and defense. The Bucs will sit four players  against the Bengals, and another six players, including Jones, remain questionable.

Bucs Without Tristan Wirfs Again

All-Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle) missing his third-consecutive game could easily hinder the Bucs offense against the Bengals.

Wirfs showed promise on Thursday with limited participation in practice, but he didn’t progress beyond that on Friday. The Bucs have mustered 24 points over the past two games with Wirfs sidelined.

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