The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an injury problem. The Buccaneers limp into Sunday's divisional contest against the Los Angeles Rams at risk of missing several key players on both sides of the ball. Tampa Bay's injury issues have been ever-present throughout the campaign, with a plethora of injuries attacking their secondary depth throughout the early portion of the regular season. Things have only gotten worse in the personnel department. Superstar receiver Chris Godwin tore his ACL in a Week 15 loss to the New Orleans Saints, and fellow receiver Antonio Brown made his controversial departure from the team just weeks later. The absence of Godwin and Brown has delivered a blow to Tampa's group of pass-catchers, where the previous depth which was otherwise viewed as a necessary luxury is no longer present. The Buccaneers thoroughly dominated the Philadelphia Eagles in last weekend's wild-card triumph but did not escape the contest unscathed. The injuries continue to pile on. A pair of crucial starting offensive linemen in center Ryan Jensen and right tackle Tristan Wirfs were injured in the victory. Jensen returned to practice in limited fashion on Thursday and Wirfs remained sidelined with his ankle ailment. There's a decent chance that Jensen and Wirfs will both suit up on Sunday, given what's at stake, but fair questions will linger regarding just how healthy they are. A wounded Buccaneers offensive line would be fresh pickings for an excellent Rams defense that features Von Miller, Aaron Donald, and Leonard Floyd up front. The Rams got after Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray early and often in their 34-11 drubbing, sacking Murray twice and impacting the pocket on what felt like a snap-by-snap basis. Should the Buccaneers have issues protecting Brady, it could be a long day. And then there's Leonard Fournette. The impactful running back was in excellent form before suffering a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past four contests. Fournette was at practice on Thursday, but questions about his overall health will carry over into Sunday's battle. Fournette was terrific throughout last season's postseason that culminated in Tampa's capturing of a Super Bowl. Gio Bernard was a difference-maker in the Buccaneers' backfield against the Eagles, but the Rams represent a different, more difficult challenge altogether. Ronald Jones, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Breshad Perriman are also question marks with their own injury-related issues. These two opponents are awfully familiar with one another. The sides met back in Week 3 when the Rams piled up 320 yards and four touchdowns in a span of four drives against a banged-up Bucs secondary en route to a comfortable 34-24 victory. The Buccaneers will certainly have revenge on their minds when they take the field. A spot in next weekend's NFC Championship Game looms large. Let's just hope the Buccaneers are healthy enough to realistically compete.
- Aug 22, 2022
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