By Max Luckan
Looking to finish the season off strong with a win, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers probably also have another goal: perhaps saving head coach Greg Schiano’s job.
Schiano’s team has a 4-11 record up to this point, and the expectation is that a loss to the New Orleans Saints this week would end Schiano’s tenure in Tampa Bay. However, it is unclear if a win would save Schiano’s job.
People inside the organization continue to say that the decision on Schiano’s future could truly go either way, but just recently, Peter King, one of the most respected football writers around, stated that in his opinion, Schiano will be back as head coach next season regardless of the outcome.
As for the players, they are just looking to finish the season with a win.
Bucs defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was the latest player to be placed on injured reserve. His season ended on Thursday when he underwent surgery on his knee. Bowers disappointed again this season, but according to defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, the knee injury may be a big reason why Bowers struggled.
“I’m hoping actually the surgery will help him because I think he’s — and maybe wouldn’t be aware of it — he’s nursing that all year,” Sheridan said. “He’s never been well. You’re trying to decide all season on whether or not to make that move. Is he at least healthy enough to play, can he play on third down or are we better off getting that surgery and letting him rehab and get ready for the offseason? I think you’ll see a different guy next offseason.”
Linebacker Dekoda Watson did not practice on Thursday for the Bucs because of a groin injury. He is probably unlikely to play in the team’s final game. Meanwhile, safety Mark Barron (hamstring), guard Davin Joseph (knee) and linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud (knee) participated on a limited basis in practice. Barron will likely be a game-time decision and Joseph will probably play. As for Glaud, his status appears to be unclear.
Even though the game is largely meaningless for the Bucs, they are still dealing with a number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, which obviously won’t improve their chances of beating the Saints. However, at this point in the season, it is wise to err on the side of caution.
It is also worth noting that the Bucs did not practice on Wednesday due to the Christmas holiday.
As far as the importance of the game goes, this last one is relatively important for the Saints, who are trying to win the NFC South.
The Saints were one of the few teams to practice on Wednesday, and quarterback Drew Brees, who has a knee injury, was limited in that session. However, Brees was back at full participation on Thursday and will play against the Bucs.
Safety Rafael Bush (ankle), wide receiver Marques Colston (back), guard Jahri Evans (knee) and tackle Terron Armstead (shoulder) were all limited in Wednesday’s practice session.
Bush is a key player on the Saints defense, but he should be able to play Sunday given that he participated fully in Thursday’s practice session. The same goes for guard Jahri Evans, who is also an instrumental part of the team’s offensive line. Evans, however, will play Sunday against the Bucs barring some kind of setback.
The Saints do not have a lot of serious injuries to key position players, which is surprising this late in the season. But a lot of their players are banged up, which might slow them down the slightest bit as they head into the playoffs.
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.