By Max Luckan
As teams are starting to plan their playoff runs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are probably already looking toward the future, specifically the offseason and the draft. At 1-8, it is extremely unlikely that the Bucs will make the playoffs, even if they win all of their remaining games.
This week, the team will face the Atlanta Falcons for the second time this season, but this time the game will be at home. For the most part, the Falcons are also unlikely to contend for a playoff spot this season, so this game will be played for future divisional bragging rights, if for nothing else.
With running back Mike James fracturing his ankle in the win over the Miami Dolphins, it appears the Bucs just can’t catch a break at the running back position. Both James and Doug Martin are out for the rest of the season, which means that newly-signed running back Michael Hill, veteran Brian Leonard, and Bobby Rainey will have to share the duties.
Rainey scored the go-ahead touchdown in Monday night’s game and will likely get a lot of touches against the Falcons.
“Monday Night Football – everybody’s watching,” Rainey said. “After the game, I looked at my phone and had 36 text messages or whatever. The first person I called was my fiancé. I wanted to talk to my daughter, but she can’t talk back. Then I called my mom afterwards.”
Playing on national television certainly has its pros and cons, but now Rainey has to prove that his performance wasn’t just a fluke.
Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers is dealing with concussion-like symptoms that kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. His status for Sunday’s game is uncertain, but he will undergo more tests to determine whether or not he can play. Rookie William Gholston would likely fill in for Bowers if he can’t play.
Guard Davin Joseph (knee) was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but that was because the Bucs are giving the veteran some rest, especially because of the short week. Joseph is fully expected to play against Atlanta. Like Joseph, safety Mark Barron was also limited both days because of a knee injury, but there haven’t been any indications that Barron will not play Sunday, so expect him to start at his normal position.
Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who has a foot injury, was limited in Wednesday’s practice session, but participated fully on Thursday. The Falcons are pleased to hear this news, as they have missed Weatherspoon all season long on defense.
Then there’s wide receiver Roddy White, whose shoulder injury forced him to miss some of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. White’s status for Sunday’s game against the Bucs is unclear, but history tells us that White will play.
Falcons running back Steven Jackson, who has battled injuries all year, currently has a toe injury, but he will play against the Bucs. The Falcons will need all the offensive firepower they can get going up against an aggressive Bucs defense.
Defensive tackles Peria Jerry (toe) and Cory Peters (knee) have both been limited all week long in practice. Atlanta would ideally like to have both guys available Sunday because Tampa’s offensive line has played extremely well the past two games. If not, the Bucs could again put up huge numbers on the ground.
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.