Bucs Get Troubling News About Injured Former Pro Bowler

Todd Bowles

Getty Todd Bowles has another potential hole to fill before a Week 13 game with New Orleans.

A week after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced a waiting game with nose tackle Vita Vea‘s foot injury, defensive end Akiem Hicks‘ foot injury issues became a problem again.

Hicks didn’t practice on Friday, December 2, due to a foot injury, per the team’s injury report. He sustained a foot injury once this season in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints, and he missed almost two months until his return in Week 9 against the Los Angeles Rams. Hicks has 12 tackles this season, and the Bucs have a 4-1 record with him on the field.

Fortunately for the Bucs, there’s an extra day for Hicks to get better before the December 5 Monday Night game against the Saints. Hicks garnered three tackles last time against New Orleans.

Meanwhile, Vea, who played in Week 12 against the Cleveland Browns, returned to limited participation in practice on Friday after sitting out Thursday’s practice due to his foot injury. The Bucs will need both Hicks and Vea healthy against a Saints squad that features a deep backfield with Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill, and Mark Ingram.

Bucs Secondary Looking Thin for Monday Night

Tampa Bay’s injury outlook in the secondary didn’t improve on Friday as safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) and Mike Edwards (hamstring) both sat out practice. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad) continued limited participation at practice on Friday.

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles didn’t offer much optimism the day before when it came to Edwards and Winfield. The Bucs could ill afford to lose both players for “Monday Night Football” against the Saints.

“Well, they didn’t practice. Right now, until we see something better later in the week, we’re planning to go with the other guys,” Bowles told the media on Thursday.

Winfield has 51 tackles, three sacks, an interception, a forced fumble, and two pass deflections this season. Edwards, the team’s third-leading tackler with 64, has two picks, three pass deflections, and a sack this fall.

Without Winfield and Edwards, Nolan Turner and Keanu Neal will likely need to step in at safety spots. Neal, a free agent signing from the Dallas Cowboys, has 46 tackles, a pass deflection, and a half sack. Turner only has special teams snaps this season.

The Bucs could get safety Logan Ryan back on the field after he returned from injured reserve this week, but Bowles couldn’t guarantee that he will play against New Orleans. Ryan has 10 tackles, a pick, and two pass deflections before his foot fracture in Week 4.

“It’s possible,” Bowles said on Thursday. “We’ve got to see a couple more days of practice before we do that, though — but he moved around well.”

New Orleans poses a potential greater passing threat than the Browns did. The Saints average 234.1 yards per game, more than the Browns’ 222.5 per contest. The Bucs secondary notably gave up a game-tying touchdown pass against the Browns in a 23-17 overtime loss.

Bucs Offense Gets Healthier

Tampa Bay’s offense got healthier with guard Luke Goedeke returning to full participation in practice on Friday. Goedeke missed the past four games due to a foot injury.

Fellow guard Nick Leverett, who filled in for Goedeke, has a shoulder injury but has practiced as a full participant thus far. Running back Leonard Fournette (hip) did the same, but wide receiver Russell Gage (hamstring) remained a limited participant. Tight end Cameron Brate missed practice again with an illness.

Tom Brady, Julio Jones, and Mike Evans had rest days on Friday.

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