Jones “may work out pre-game to see where it stands” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, but the reporter noted that “the Bucs are not expected” to play Jones. Rapoport added that Jones has “been dealing with a knee issue” during the past week. Jones didn’t practice December 14 and 15, and he only had limited participation on December 16.
Jones hasn’t played at his typical Pro Bowl level this season with 22 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns, but he gives quarterback Tom Brady an additional option plus one of only two real deep threats. Jones has receptions of 48, 31, and 26 yards this season for an offense that struggles to gain yards at 6.7 per passing attempt and 4.6 yards per rush attempt.
Injuries have been a problem all season for Jones, too. He tore PCL early in the season and missed four games in September and October plus a brief appearance against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4.
Bucs Make Move at Receiver Before Bengals Game
The Bucs moved receiver Deven Thompkins up from the practice squad on December 17, which will give the team more depth plus a special teams threat.
Thompkins returned a kickoff 54 yards in Week 14 against the San Francisco 49ers, and he returned five kicks for 123 yards overall plus two punt returns for 21 yards. He took over the return role for second-year wide receiver Jaelon Darden, whom the Bucs cut before the 49ers game.
“We got a little jolt with Thompkins in there, so we’ll try to move forward from there,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles told reporters on December 14.
Thompkins joined the Bucs as an undrafted free agent last spring and made the practice squad after training camp. The former Utah State standout impressed Bowles at the time but couldn’t crack a deep receiver corps on the roster.
“He came very close,” Bowles said. “It was tough between him, [Kaylon] Geiger, you had Tyler [Johnson], you had Scotty [Miller], you had ‘B.P.’ [Breshad Perriman] — there [were] a lot of guys that were close to making the roster at the time. At the time, offensively he just didn’t know enough.”
While Thompkins came up last week for special teams, he could fit in on the offense. Thompkins notably caught a pass in every preseason game, which included a long of 34 yards.
“We’ll use him,” Bowles said. “We have him, we’ll use him. He can get in the game and play and you shouldn’t be surprised if he’s in the game because he has a good feel for it and he can do some things for us.”
Bucs Elevate J.J. Russell
The Bucs also moved linebacker J.J. Russell from the practice squad to the active roster on December 17 amid a thin linebacking group.