By Max Luckan
Although they currently sit at 6-5, which is good enough for the seventh spot in the NFC, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are far from securing a playoff berth, and will have to gain some momentum with a big win over the Denver Broncos this Sunday in Denver. The Broncos, however, won’t simply roll over. They’ve won six in a row and are currently 8-3. Quarterback Peyton Manning has quickly acclimated to the system in Denver and is becoming more and more comfortable with his receivers and the offense in general. The Bucs made their final preparations on Friday for the matchup, and did so in relatively good health.
Compared to other weeks this season, the Bucs are going into the game against the Broncos relatively healthy, although many players are already on injured reserve, including safety Cody Grimm and offensive linemen Jeremy Trueblood, who were the newest additions to the list.
“We look pretty good,” coach Greg Schiano said. DT Roy Miller missed Wednesday’s practice because of an illness, but returned to practice and fully participated on Thursday and Friday, so there’s no issue there. Miller, of course, is listed as probable on the final injury report. Likewise, center Ted Larsen was limited in practice on Wednesday because of an illness, but practiced fully on Thursday and Friday, and is listed as probable on the injury report as well.
Defensive end Michael Bennett, who had been dealing with an ankle injury, was a full participant the whole week, and is listed as probable for Sunday’s game. And LB Dekoda Watson dealt with a minor hamstring issue, but was not hindered in any way in practice, so he will play.
While having many key players on injured reserve, the Bucs are fortunate that at this point in the season, they are in relatively good health and aren’t dealing with any nagging injuries. Of course, CB Eric Wright has been hampered by an Achilles injury, but he is suspended for four games.
Meanwhile for the Broncos, defensive end Robert Ayers is dealing with the loss of his father, and it is unclear when he’ll rejoin the team. Ayers is listed as questionable on the injury report, so he might not be back in time for the game against the Bucs. Ayers is a backup defensive end, so if he decides to spend more time with his family, the Broncos are well covered in terms of depth on the defensive line.
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley is dealing with wrist and hip injuries and was limited in practice all week. Stokley is listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report, and is listed behind starting receiver Eric Decker on the depth chart. Opposite Decker, Demaryius Thomas has been hampered by a knee injury, which although won’t keep him from playing, could slow him down. This is good news for a Bucs’ secondary that is ranked last in the NFL in pass defense.
Full Injury Report
DE Michael Bennett (ankle)
C Ted Larsen (illness)
DT Roy Miller (illness)
LB Dekoda Watson (hamstring)
TE Virgil Green (hamstring)
DE Malik Jackson (finger)
G Kris Kuper (ankle)
CB Tracy Porter (illness)
G Manuel Ramirez (back)
WR Demaryius Thomas (knee)
DE Robert Ayers (not injury related)
T Chris Clark (illness)
WR Brandon Stokley (wrist, hip)
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.