By Max Luckan
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still in a bad position at 4-9 with the San Francisco 49ers, who upset the Seattle Seahawks last week, coming to town. However, the Bucs have won four of their last five games with the only loss coming to the Carolina Panthers, a team that had been on a hot streak.
While the playoffs won’t happen this year and the same questions will be asked in the offseason about the direction of the franchise, Bucs star cornerback Darrelle Revis thinks the Bucs are growing as a team, as a unit.
“We’ve been growing as a team,” Revis said. “I feel the past four or five games, we’ve really grown, and I think we know how to win together. Guys know how guys play and the communication of where a guy is supposed to be. I think we feel very confident. We do.”
The Bucs already have placed 14 players on injured reserve this season, which has also been a factor in the team’s struggles for sure. It is hard for a team’s offense to function at only 50 or 60 percent capacity for an entire season, but that is what the Bucs have had to do.
Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers did not practice on Wednesday because of a knee injury. However, Bowers was able to practice the following day, so he should be able to play against San Francisco.
Furthermore, the Bucs offensive line seems to be about as healthy as possible at this point, as both Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder) and Davin Joseph (shoulder) were back at practice on Thursday.
One point to note is that the Bucs were unable to complete their practice session on Thursday, meaning the injury report was not officially filed.
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson is still being bothered by a hamstring injury and did not practice on Thursday. However, Jackson did not practice until very late in the week last week and still played in the victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Linebacker Lavonte David, arguably the team’s best defensive player, suffered a minor back injury, but it did not limit him in any way in practice. Barring some kind of setback, David will be in the starting lineup for the Bucs against the 49ers.
Defensive end William Gholston (head), defensive tackle Gary Gibson (calf) and defensive tackle Akeem Spence (wrist) all had full participation in practice and should play on Sunday.
At 9-4, the 49ers are likely on their way to another playoff berth and the health of the team will play a huge factor in how far they advance in this year’s playoffs.
On Wednesday, defensive tackles Ray McDonald (ankle) and Justin Smith (shoulder) did not participate in practice. These are two key players on the 49ers defensive line, and they need both of them to be healthy in order to slow Bucs running back Bobby Rainey.
Like the Bucs, the 49ers did not file an official injury report for Thursday because the practice session was not completed.
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree is dealing with an ankle injury, which forced him to be limited in Wednesday’s practice session. The same goes for receiver Mario Manningham, who has been hampered by a knee injury.
The good news for the 49ers is that linebacker Aldon Smith (shoulder) participated fully on Wednesday and will be ready to go for them on Sunday.
Running back Frank Gore also has an ankle injury that may slow him a bit against the Bucs, but it is likely that he will play on Sunday.
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.