Bucs face Browns without top three guards, others
The Bucs have their first preseason home game tonight against the Browns, but will take the field without 10 players held out as injury precautions, including their top three options at offensive guard.
Already without starting left guard J.R. Sweezy (back), the Bucs will go without starting right guard Ali Marpet (ankle), as well as Kevin Pamphile, who will filling in at left guard for the first five games of the season; he was excused for a personal matter, nothing injury-related. The Bucs will have Evan Smith, who started three games for Marpet last season, at right guard, with an inexperience backup in Josh Allen starting at left guard.
-- Also out for the Bucs are the top two strongside linebackers in Daryl Smith (undisclosed injury) and rookie Devante Bond (hamstring), giving backup Josh Keyes a start when Tampa Bay is in its base defense.
-- RB Mike James, arguably the leader for the Bucs' No. 3 running back job, is also being held out, giving rookie Peyton Barber a bigger opportunity to make his case for the final roster. Starter Doug Martin, who was held out last week with a rib injury, is expected to play, but he and Charles Sims could have small roles tonight.
-- DT Clinton McDonald is also being held out, so Akeem Spence will start in his place. This also gives more reps to backups vying for the team's No. 4 job, like A.J. Francis, Cliff Matthews and rookie DaVonte Lambert.
-- TE Luke Stocker is being held out, so Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be listed as a starter opposite Cameron Brate if they open in a two-TE set. That's more reps for rookie Danny Vitale and veteran Brandon Myers, competing for the fourth tight end job, presuming the Bucs carry four tight ends.
-- WR Louis Murphy has yet to practice as he returns from ACL surgery and as expected is not dressed tonight.
-- OG Caleb Benenoch, who just returned to practice this week after missing three weeks with an ankle injury, is dressed and can make his preseason debut tonight -- with the limited options at guard, he could end up playing quite a bit.