By Max Luckan
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still reeling from a disappointing loss to the much-improved New York Jets last Sunday.
However, the game against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday isn’t the biggest headline in Tampa this week, as there are rumors about a disconnect between Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman and head coach Greg Schiano brewing. Right now, much of the speculation about why Freeman wasn’t elected team captain is just that: speculation. But still, Schiano would prefer to stay away from the controversy.
Meanwhile, the Bucs are slowly getting healthier as they head into their game against the Saints, who have plenty of injuries and are coming off a big win against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was a new addition to the Bucs injury report. He was listed as having a hip injury on Thursday’s report. The injury doesn’t appear to be very serious, and Clayborn played well in Week 1, but it’s still something to monitor. Expect to see defensive end Trevor Scott get a couple extra snaps against New Orleans.
And left guard Carl Nicks, who is slowly recovering from a foot injury and MRSA infection, was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. But Nicks did not practice at all last week, so that is encouraging news. However, it is still unlikely that Nicks plays this week because he is still not in football shape, but he says that he hopes to play.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to play [Sunday],” Nicks told reporters. “You can run sprints until you’re blue in the face, but you’re not going to get into football shape with anything except football.”
Running back Doug Martin will likely be without Tampa’s top offensive lineman, but he certainly hopes Nicks can play. The offensive line struggled against the Jets and Gabe Carimi will probably start in Nicks’ place again against New Orleans if Nicks is unable to play.
Cornerback Rashaan Melvin, who is battling a hamstring injury, was a full participant in practice on Thursday and should be ready to play against the Saints. Melvin’s return will give the Bucs some added depth against the prolific Saints offense. Fullback Erik Lorig also participated fully, which is very good news for Doug Martin. The Bucs clearly missed Lorig’s blocking abilities against the Jets and he should play this week.
Cornerback Michael Adams will not play this Sunday because of a knee injury and tight end Tom Crabtree is listed as doubtful with an ankle sprain. Luke Stocker will most likely start again in place of Crabtree.
The Saints are battling a few key injuries. For one, linebacker Jonathan Vilma is on injured reserve for now.
Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley did not participate in practice on Thursday due to a calf injury. He’s expected to miss several weeks with the injury, so rookie nose tackle John Jenkins will likely start in his place. Saints safety Isa Abdul-Quddus did not participate in practice on Thursday, along with defensive end Glenn Foster and defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker. With Foster and Walker hurt, the Saints are lacking depth on the defensive line, which could help spark the Bucs running game.
Cornerback Jabari Greer was limited with a back injury, linebacker Curtis Lofton was limited with a knee injury, and cornerback Patrick Robinson was limited in practice with a foot injury. The status of all three players is up in the air, but they are all important players on defense for the Saints.
The Saints hope that at least Lofton and Greer can play, which they probably will. They are both key for the Saints on defense, and if they can’t play, the Saints will be very thin on defense, which could be beneficial for Josh Freeman and the Bucs.
The Bucs will look to start off fast against the Saints and get their first win of the season.
For more Bucs news and updates, visit Bucs Central.
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. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.