The Tampa Bay Buccaneers elevated two young players amid the team’s latest rash of injuries going into Week 7.
Carlton Davis III (hip) became the third Bucs defensive back ruled out on Saturday, October 22 for the NFC South Division showdown with the Carolina Panthers on October 23. Previously, Bucs cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad) got ruled out on Friday, and safety Logan Ryan went on injured reserve this week. The Bucs consequently elevated two defensive backs — Anthony Chesley and Nolan Turner — from the practice squad on Saturday.
A second-year cornerback, Chesley has 13 games of experience since 2020, including a Week 6 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played 16 special teams snaps in the 20-18 loss to the Steelers in his only other call up from the practice squad this season.
Turner, an undrafted free agent from Clemson, could make his regular season debut at Carolina. He played for the Bucs in the preseason and tallied six tackles in three games, but he didn’t get to play any snaps during his previous elevation from the practice squad this season.
Both Chesley and Nelson could see the field for special teams at the very least, but the Bucs could use them for more depth in the secondary. The Bucs have limited depth with three players out plus safety Mike Edwards (elbow) listed as questionable. Available defensive backs include Antoine Winfield Jr., Jamel Dean, Keanu Neal, Zyon McCollum, and Dee Delaney.
Bucs Wary of Depleted Panthers Offense
Tampa Bay faces a depleted Panthers offense, which just lost star running back Christian McCaffrey via a trade with San Francisco. Carolina also traded away wide receiver Robbie Anderson to Arizona, and the Panthers likely will start P.J. Walker at quarterback on Sunday.
“We look at it as somebody getting hurt and not playing that week,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles told the media on Friday. “So for us, we worry about us. We’re trying to get back on the winning track, so the big focus for us is our team this week — not what they have going on and who they traded.”
The Bucs know better not to overlook a team led by a young backup quarterback with few Pro Bowl-caliber weapons. Pittsburgh stunned the Bucs with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett followed by backup Mitch Trubisky. In addition, Bowles knows what to expect from Walker.
“P.J. is very athletic, he has a live arm, he’s been there for a couple years — he’s been in the system, obviously. I’ve known P.J. for a long time,” Bowles said. “We’re from the same neighborhood, went to the same high school [and] went to the same college. So, we know each other very well. He’s a very athletic guy, he’s very courageous, he’s tough, he’s going to bring a lot of energy to the team and he’s not afraid of the moment.”
Banged Up Bucs Offense Gets a Slight Boost
Tampa Bay’s offense will also look to right the ship after mustering only 18 points. Similar to the defense, the Bucs offense will also go without key injured offensive players in wide receiver Julio Jones (knee) and tight end Cameron Brate (neck) sitting out. The Bucs also have guard Shaq Mason (ankle) listed as questionable.
The offensive line will get a boost in depth with tackle Josh Wells returning from injured reserve on Saturday. Wells played 68 snaps in the first two games before sustaining a calf injury in Week 2 at New Orleans.