TAMPA — Two of the NFL's top rookie pass rushers will be reunited Sunday when the Bucs' Noah Spence goes against the Chargers' Joey Bosa, his former teammate at Ohio State.
"That's still my boy," said Spence, who finished his college career at Eastern Kentucky after being on the 2013 and 2014 Buckeyes with Bosa. "We're been talking all week and last week, and just encouraging each other. It's friendly competition."
Spence is second among rookies with 5.5 sacks, behind the Jaguars' Yannick Ngakoue with six, and Bosa is next with 4.5 in seven games. Bosa, drafted third overall, said he's pleased to see Spence's success after Spence was banned from the Big Ten after two failed drug tests.
"Noah, he's a testament to turning your life around," Bosa said. "I've always known he was a great kid, and any coach that ever asked anything about him to me, I always gave him the best. … I knew he would work as hard as he can to get into the position he's in now, and I'm really proud of him."
INJURY UPDATE: S Chris Conte was held out of practice Wednesday with a chest injury that could sideline him Sunday. DT Gerald McCoy was held out with a foot injury but has said he'll be ready to play Sunday.
OL Evan Smith remained out with a knee injury and is likely out for a third game. TE Brandon Myers (hip) and S Ryan Smith (shoulder) were limited. WR Mike Evans was excused from practice; his absence was not injury-related.
FOR YOU, THE FANS: QB Jameis Winston opened his weekly news conference by presenting a game ball to Tampa Bay fans for their support at Raymond James Stadium during the 14-5 win over Seattle on Sunday.
"I really just want to give this game ball to the fans," Winston said, holding up a ball in his right hand. "They did an amazing job. … I hope that's in our future every Sunday at Ray Jay. This is for you, fans."
The Bucs had their largest announced crowd of the season for the game, 63,674.
GLAD TO BE BACK: It has been three months since DB Major Wright was cut by the Bucs, and as he returned Wednesday with Conte out with a chest injury, Wright said he was grateful for another chance to show he still belongs in the NFL.
"Those streets are cold," said Wright, 28, who played extensively with the Bucs in 2014-15. "It's very frustrating. You're waiting on the call. I'm texting my agent, like 'What have you heard?' I've got a lot of ball left in me. It hurts to see every week go by and you didn't get that call. It's stressful."
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report. Contact Greg Auman at email@example.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman and @NFLStroud.