Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles wouldn’t tip his cap on if any of the injured wide receivers will play at New Orleans.
The same wet starting offensive tackle Donovan Smith, who hyperextended his elbow at Dallas. Tampa Bay’s final injury report on Friday, September 16, listed Smith as doubtful for the September 18 game, and the report only listed wide receiver Chris Godwin as out with another four receivers as questionable. Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Russell Gage, and Breshad Perriman all had limited participation at practice on Friday per the report.
“Donovan will be close. It would be hard for him to make it, but we’ll see. Rest of the guys, we’ll see on Sunday,” Bowles told the media on Friday. “[Godwin] is in play by a small margin, but we’ll see on Sunday. If I had to guess, I’d say he wouldn’t.”
Godwin, who tore his ACL the last time the Bucs faced the New Orleans Saints, didn’t practice on Friday. He injured a hamstring against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, September 11, and he showed up on the injury reports for Wednesday and Thursday as a non-participant.
Greg Auman of The Athletic noted that it “seems promising” Jones and Evans will play against the Saints. Evans had a wrap on his calf this week due to an injury there, which Bowles downplayed in Wednesday’s press conference. Jones played a full game against the Cowboys.
Fournette Remains Questionable
Bucs running back Leonard Fournette, who impressed in Week 1 with 127 yards rushing, dealt with a hamstring injury during the week. Fournette practiced again on Thursday and Friday, but the Bucs listed him as questionable for the Saints game.
His previous performances against the Saits haven’t been stellar during his Bucs tenure — 60 yards on 18 carries. He fared better in 2019 with the Jacksonville Jaguars when he rushed for 72 yards against the Saints.
Bowles Says Ex-Bucs QB Jameis Winston ‘Has Grown a Great Deal’
Bowles expects a challenge for his defense when facing ex-Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the Saints offense on September 18. The Bucs took Winston as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and the Bucs let him leave in free agency when quarterback Tom Brady arrived in 2020. Winston left the Bucs with a reputation for being turnover prone amid his 30 interceptions in 2019.
“Jameis has grown a great deal,” Bowles told reporters. “To go in and learn another system and become a starting quarterback is outstanding in itself. To overcome injuries and work out the way he does and still come back and play and have success is outstanding. It says a lot about the person, the character, and what he does to train to get ready to play.”
“And I don’t think we prepare for Jameis,” Bowles added. “I think we prepare for the team. He’s only one guy. If we prepare for him, the other 10 guys on offense are going to kill us. So, we’ll try to prepare to play a complete team, and they are a complete team. We’ll go that way.”
Winston will play against the Bucs for the first time since tearing his ACL against the team in October 2021.