No News is Bad News on Injury Front
There was no change in the Bucs' injury report on Friday. That means the five defensive starters who were questionable (meaning there is a 50 percent chance they will play) on Thursday remained so on Friday, just 48 hours before Sunday's game against division rival Carolina.
The least likely to play appears to be Brian Kelly, who hasn't practiced all week because of a turf toe injury. Concern is growing that Kelly's condition is worsening, and Kelly is worried about his future should the trend continue.
Simeon Rice (knee) returned to practice Friday, joining defensive tackles Chris Hovan (ankle) and Anthony McFarland (hip) in light duty. But Friday practices are not physically taxing and are not a good measurement of whether a player can play at full speed on Sunday.
Kelly and linebacker Ryan Nece (knee) did not practice. Look for the Bucs to possibly make a roster move by promoting defensive tackle Anthony Bryant from the practice squad and to get rookie lineman Julian Jenkins involved on Sunday should any of the linemen be sidelined.
Tthe Bucs are also contemplating how to replace Nece if he is unable to play. Coach Jon Gruden said one possibility is moving middle linebacker Shelton Quarles to Nece's strong side spot, with second-year reserve Barrett Ruud getting the start at middle linebacker. Another option might be to start Jamie Winborn on the strong side, but Winborn appears to be the less preferred option judging by the team's decision to leave him inactive last week against Atlanta.