Instead, Jones may miss his third game in as many week as he remains a game-time decision for the Bucs against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 2. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles wouldn’t tip his cap on if Jones or any of the other injured offensive starters will play in the Week 4 rematch of Super Bowl LV franchises. Jones, wide receiver Chris Godwin, and tackle Donovan Smith “practiced on a limited basis” Bowles said on Friday, September 30.
“We’ll see how they continue to progress. Those will be game-time decisions on Sunday,” Bowles told the media.
Jones sat out the past two games though Bowles claimed Jones “could have played” in Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers. Bowles clarified on Friday that “we wanted him to get healthier” instead. Jones partially tore a PCL in his knee.
“He could possibly still play this week,” Bowles said about Jones. “He did some limited things in practice and looked good. With Julio, it’s all about how he feels the next two days, as to whether he’s going to play on Sunday. Sometimes he has setbacks, sometimes he doesn’t.”
Bowles anticipates having Jones on a pitch count if he plays.
“Obviously with the depth, he wouldn’t play every snap, but we’ll try to get him in and out and try to do some things and see how he’s feeling on Sunday,” Bowles said.
Godwin likewise hasn’t played since the opener against the Dallas Cowboys when he pulled a hamstring in his first game back from an ACL tear. Godwin notably didn’t practice on Thursday, but he practiced on Wednesday in limited capacity.
Smith, who hyperextended an elbow at Dallas, had limited participation all three days of practice this week. Josh Wells, followed by Brandon Walton due to Wells’ injury, filled in for Smith through three weeks.
Bucs Coach Envisions Offense at Full Strength
Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich envisioned having Godwin, Jones, and Smith back and how it would look for the team against one of the league’s best squads. The Bucs have sputtered offensively all season amid injuries — especially against Green Bay where the Bucs mustered 12 points without Jones, Godwin, and Mike Evans (suspension).
“It’s different, it’s different, because when you’re [not] healthy and you’re playing some new guys, some youthful guys — you looked in the huddle and eight of our 11 [players] were different,” Leftwich told reporters on Thursday. “Eight of the 11 guys that’s used to being in the huddle [were] different. That always takes time as a group. Like I was telling the group — this group has to learn how to play and win football games together. Each year is different, it’s not an automatic thing.”
Leftwich said “we are excited” about Jones and Godwin practicing this week but noted the final decision rests with Bowles.
“Any time that you get your starters back, you’d be happy to have them back and have them healthy,” Bowles said. “We just want to make sure they’re all healthy when they come back.”
Not Just Jones and Godwin
Tampa Bay also has injuries to receivers Russell Gage (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman (knee/hamstring). Gage practiced in limited capacity on Wednesday and Thursday, but Perriman hasn’t practiced all week.
“Breshad is doubtful unless he has a miraculous recovery by Sunday,” Bowles said.
Gage and Perriman have two of the only three touchdown receptions for the Bucs this season. Evans, who returns from a one-game suspension, has the other.