Banged-up Buccaneers offense could sputter again against Saints

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s injury was the headline from Tampa Bay’s Week 1 win over Dallas, but the Buccaneers are now dealing with their own set of concerns on offense.

All five Buccaneers receivers who were targeted on Sunday night showed up on the injury report Wednesday. Chris Godwin (right hamstring) did not practice and isn’t likely to play in Week 2, and Russell Gage (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) missed practice. Mike Evans was limited with a left calf injury, and Breshad Perriman was also limited because of an unspecified knee injury. 

On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud reported Godwin, Evans and Jones weren’t on the field for the portion of the practice open to media. Gage was on the field, but left tackle Donovan Smith also sat out after suffering a hyperextended right elbow on Sunday. 

On Wednesday, head coach Todd Bowles had little to say about Smith: “We’ll see how it goes at the end of the week.”

This might be a familiar feeling for the Buccaneers, which were depleted at wide receiver when they were shut out by the Saints in December. With Antonio Brown already suspended, Tampa lost Evans to a minor injury and Godwin to a torn right ACL by the end of the game. 

Nine months later, the Buccaneers could be looking at another absence for Godwin against New Orleans and might be dealing with a limited Evans, among others. 

The only two receivers who haven’t popped up on the injury report this week are Scotty Miller and Jaelon Darden, who weren’t targeted in Week 1. If Evans and Gage are active for Sunday’s game in New Orleans, Tom Brady might have no choice but to look their way. 

Leonard Fournette could take on a heavy workload out of the backfield, but he’s dealing with a minor hamstring injury himself. If he’s limited, rookie Rachaad White could see his usage increase. 

A thin group of weapons could become an even larger problem if Smith isn’t able to play, leaving the Buccaneers without yet another reliable offensive lineman. 

The Saints are 4-0 against the Buccaneers during the regular season since Brady joined the team, and with a slew of bang-up players, Tampa could be in for another rough go with its division rivals.



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