TAMPA — Falcons QB Matt Ryan comes to Tampa on Thursday leading the NFL in touchdown passes (19) and passing yards (2,636), and while the Bucs have won three straight against Atlanta, they have a healthy respect for what Ryan can do.
"They're on fire," DT Gerald McCoy said Tuesday. "Matty Ice is Matty Ice. I love the guy. I know Bucs fans (will say) 'Oh, there you go again, being a nice guy again.' I don't care how you guys feel. I like Matty Ice. He's a nice guy. He's a great player. So what?
"I'll shake his hand before and after the game, and during the game I'll try to kill him. But Matty Ice is a great player and he's on fire right now. … It's okay to be a nice guy."
The only three-sack game of McCoy's NFL career came against Ryan in a 2013 Bucs win. Atlanta has allowed 20 sacks this season, the fifth-most in the NFL.
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was Ryan's head coach in Atlanta from 2008-14, and head coach Dirk Koetter was his offensive coordinator from 2012-14, a familiarity that helped the Bucs pull out a 31-24 win over Atlanta in Week 1.
"Matt's doing a very good job," Smith said. "You've got to try to pick your poison when you play a team that has the weapons that they have. … It's going to be a challenge for us and I know our guys are looking forward to it."
Ryan has one of the NFL's top receivers in Julio Jones, but has thrown touchdown passes to 10 different players this season, the most of any team.
GOT A PICK: The Bucs, initially expected to waive CB Johnthan Banks, found a trade partner Tuesday and sent him to the Lions in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2017. Banks, a 2013 second-round pick who lost his starting job last year and was inactive for the past two games, now gets a fresh start in Detroit. The conditions weren't disclosed but typically require a player to stay on roster for a certain period for the draft pick to be included in the trade.
INJURY UPDATE: DE Will Gholston (biceps) and WR Russell Shepard (hip) were upgraded to limited participation in Tuesday's practice. Shepard was a spectator during the portion of practice open to the media, but Gholston was more actively testing himself. RBs Doug Martin (hamstring) and Jacquizz Rodgers (foot) remain out and are expected to miss Thursday's game; DT Clinton McDonald had limited participation in practice as he recovers from a hamstring injury. The team will issue a final injury report today.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] or (813) 226-3346. Follow @GregAuman.