Three members of the Bucs’ secondary sustained injuries in the team’s 21-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons on October 9: Carlton Davis III (hip), Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad) and Mike Edwards (hand or wrist). The Bucs also lost safety Logan Ryan to a foot injury a week earlier.
Tampa Bay didn’t immediately make a roster but, on October 12, eventually elevated inside linebacker Genard Avery to the active roster from the practice squad after Bucs head coach Todd Bowles notably had said two days earlier that they’re looking internally for defensive back depth.
“Well, we’re still going to take a look at it. We’ve got [Zyon] McCollum, we’ve got [Dee] Delaney, we’ve got some guys on the practice squad that we like. So, we’ll take a look at it if they can’t play,” Bowles told the media.
Meanwhile, Young leaves the Bucs after playing in four games on special teams where he played 70 snaps this season. He began his career in 2018 after the Baltimore Ravens picked him from UCLA in the fourth round of the draft. He tallied 196 tackles, 5.5 sacks, an interception and four forced fumbles in his career with the Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos and Bucs.
Tampa Bay signed him to the practice squad in September after the Las Vegas Raiders released him during training camp. Young never played a regular season game for the Raiders. He spent the 2021 season with the Rams before getting traded to Denver. Young signed with the Raiders as a free agent in the offseason.
Julio Jones on ‘Long Game’ Plan
With injured players in the secondary, the Bucs await the return of injured wide receiver Julio Jones.
One of the biggest free agent acquisitions of the Bucs’ offseason, Jones has hardly played since Week 1 due to a PCL tear in his knee. Bowles said after Week 3 that Jones “could have played” but said the staff was erring on the side of caution. The Bucs then only played him for a half against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht told WDAE on Sunday that they’re “playing the long game here a little bit” to keep Jones healthy for a playoff run. Bowles acknowledged that’s the approach with Jones.
“Yeah, I think we are,” Bowles told the media on Monday. “Again, just like Jason said, we want him fully healthy and not coming out for a week and then missing another couple [of] weeks. We think we’ve got enough guys right now to weather that storm.”
Jones dealt with injuries throughout the 2020 season in Atlanta and 2021 in Tennessee. He came into this season confident that he put the recent injury history behind him. Speculation of pain tolerance issues arose during Jones’ latest absence, but Bowles dismissed that notion.
“Well, I don’t have the injury, so I’m not sure,” Bowles said. “His pain tolerance is very high, so I know he’s hurt. But when he’s back, we’ll be happy to have him. It’s just one of those things we have to wait and see.”
Bowles Sees Mixed Bag in Secondary Health
Tampa Bay had four injured defensive backs by the end of Week 5. Bowles sees some light at the end of the tunnel while some injuries could linger. Edwards, who isn’t listed as questionable on the depth chart, per ESPN, received the most promising update from Bowles.
“I think he should be okay,” Bowles said about Edwards.
Bowles noted that Murphy-Bunting will have an MRI but “not sure” about Davis III. The coach “we’ll see how the week goes” regarding those three playing in Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bowles added that Ryan’s return for Week 6 doesn’t look promising.
Things also look doubtful for defensive lineman Akiem Hicks in terms of practicing this week. Hicks injured a foot in Week 2.
“I’ll believe it when I see it. We thought he’d heal a little bit earlier than he did, so it’s kind of a week-by-week thing right now with him,” Bowles said.