Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski inactive vs. Bucs tonight
As expected, the Bucs will play tonight without four key defensive players due to injury, but Tampa Bay caught a break with the news that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be inactive due to a thigh injury.
Gronkowski was just added to the injury report Friday -- he's been one of Tom Brady's top targets again this season with 20 catches for 318 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bucs are without starting linebackers Lavonte David (ankle) and Kwon Alexander (hamstring), as well as safeties T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy, both out with hip injuries. That means rookie Kendell Beckwith will be at middle linebacker for the third game in a row, with Adarius Glanton starting at weakside linebacker; rookie Justin Evans will step up and make his first NFL start, having filled in with 45 snaps on Sunday after Tandy was injured.
The Bucs' other inactives are DT Sealver Siliga, OT Leonard Wester and C Joe Hawley. Rookie TE Antony Auclair is active and will make his NFL debut, as will safety Isaiah Johnson, who was promoted from the Bucs' practice squad earlier Thursday.
Bucs RB Doug Martin will make his season debut, having completed his four-game suspension.