TAMPA — For all the hand-wringing about QB Jameis Winston playing behind an offensive line missing two key starters, the Bucs got some good news Thursday that might calm some fears.
Evan Smith was removed from the concussion protocol and had full participation in practice.
That means Smith is likely to start at left guard against the Packers on Sunday in place of Kevin Pamphile, who would move to right tackle.
Wednesday, the Bucs placed C Ali Marpet and RT Demar Dotson on injured reserve with knee injuries they suffered in Sunday’s 34-20 loss at Atlanta.
Veteran Joe Hawley, who started at center during Winston’s first two NFL seasons, will replace Marpet.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken was asked if the Bucs should be wary about playing Winston at Green Bay behind a rebuilt offensive line.
"No, probably in the fact that everybody that is on our roster is the best in the world," Monken said. "There is not one guy on our roster that is not a capable player. Some are more advanced than others in their progression as a player. Joe Hawley is going to play center. Well, he was our starter before. We went 9-7 with him as our center. Then whether Kevin (Pamphile) plays over at tackle or Caleb Benenoch — whoever plays over on that side — Kevin has played there before, and we are going to count on them.
"It’s not as if we’ve called somebody off the street from the IHOP and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come play tackle for us?’ We’ve got guys here that are the best in the world. That is what they are. They’re paid to go do their job, and we will count on them to do their job. That is the expectation of the team and the position."
Coach Dirk Koetter competed as an assistant against the Packers at Lambeau Field several times and was impressed by how uniformly the fans were dressed.
"The first time I went there was for a preseason game, and I think every single person in the crowd had a Green Bay Packers jersey on," Koetter said. "I’d never seen anything like it. It was a summer night. It was in August, and I’d never seen anything like that where it was that high volume of Packers jerseys. Then we went another time when it was in December … and before the game the field was covered (with snow). They had the blowers going. (It was) horrible weather. You couldn’t even see. It was snowing. The second those gates opened, there was people in those seats two hours before game time."
One player was added to the injury report. TE Cameron Brate was limited with a hip injury. DE Robert Ayers, who has a concussion and was limited in practice Wednesday, did not participate. WR DeSean Jackson, who did not practice Wednesday, was limited with a foot injury.