TAMPA — Rookies now comprise nearly a quarter of the Bucs' active roster, 13 out of 53 players, with a draft class augmented by additions from other teams' practice squads.
As he prepares for Sunday's game against Atlanta, Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said that relative youth has both its advantages and difficulties.
"There's no doubt when you look at the rookies we're playing with — offensively with (TE) Timmy Wright, (RB Bobby) Rainey, (QB) Mike Glennon … some of the guys at wideout (like) Skye Dawson and defensively you look at (CB) John Banks and (DT) Akeem Spence — there's a lot of rookies that are on the field in prominent roles," Schiano said.
Glennon leads all rookies with nine touchdown passes in six games, and Rainey had the go-ahead touchdown in Monday's win over the Dolphins. Meanwhile, Spence and Banks have settled into starting roles. Some are fighting through the proverbial "rookie wall," but Schiano is pleased with the group's progress.
"What rookies do is they make rookie mistakes," he said. "No matter how hard they work and how hard you try to school them, they're going to make rookie mistakes. You've got to live with them. There's also that hunger and that innocence and just that excitement to go do their job. You hope it semibalances out, and the fact that they're good players helps a lot, too."
NOT BACK YET: DE Da'Quan Bowers might not be able to build on his half-sack performance Monday. He again did not practice Friday and still is suffering from concussion-like symptoms. Although he has not been ruled out for Sunday, it's becoming more unlikely he will play. Rookie DE Steven Means could be active if Bowers sits. Is Bowers out?
"Not definitely," Schiano said. "But the longer we wait, the more we're headed in that direction."
Bowers and rookie DT William Gholston combined on a sack of Ryan Tannehill on the Dolphins' final series.
Meanwhile, S Mark Barron (knee) who had been limited in practice this week, fully participated Friday and is probable for Sunday against the Falcons.
Surgeries: RB Doug Martin had surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder Friday, and RB Mike James had surgery on his broken left ankle Thursday.
COSTLY: Punt returner Eric Page was fined $7,875 for Monday's hit on Dolphins special-teamer R.J. Sanford that resulted in a 15-yard penalty. Dolphins LB Philip Wheeler was fined $21,000 for hitting Glennon in the head and neck area. And Dolphins C Mike Pouncey was fined $7,875 for punching Spence's helmet, which drew a 15-yard penalty.
Charity work: The Bucs are asking fans to bring donations to support local foods banks as part of Sunday's annual "Sack Hunger" campaign. Bring boxed, nonperishable food; canned meats, fruits, vegetables, juices or soups; and peanut butter.