The Bucs secondary may be even more depleted than expected. Rookie S Justin Evans and CB Vernon Hargreaves went on injured reserve this week, and starting CB Ryan Smith showed up as doubtful on Friday’s final injury report, leaving the Bucs dangerously thin at cornerback for Sunday’s game at Carolina. Brent Grimes will start at one spot, but if Smith can’t play, Robert McClain shifts outside, facing a team that cut him during last season. That elevates Javien Elliott — who has four tackles all season — into the nickel cornerback job, and the only backup for all three is rookie David Rivers, who will likely make his NFL debut after being signed Wednesday off the Dolphins’ practice squad. The Bucs left open the possibility of getting DT Gerald McCoy (biceps) and LB Lavonte David (hamstring) back after they missed Monday’s game with injuries. Both are listed as questionable, with McCoy upgraded to full participation Friday. "They are both possible," coach Dirk Koetter said. "Of course, we’d love to have them back — two excellent players." Starting WR DeSean Jackson (ankle) and DE Robert Ayers (shoulder), who were injured Monday, have been ruled out. TE Cameron Brate (hip/knee) and DE Ryan Russell (shoulder) are questionable for Sunday. Chance to shine Two rookies with a chance to make the most of bigger opportunities Sunday are WR Chris Godwin and TE Antony Auclair, in position to play more due to injuries to starters.
Bucs journal: Injuries could leave secondary dangerously thin
Tampa Bay Times | Dec 23