Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vincent Jackson practices for Bucs on limited basis

TAMPA — Vincent Jackson, who has missed the past three games with a knee injury, returned to practice Thursday but appeared to be limited to some individual drills.

However, it's a good sign for the Bucs, who haven't had their veteran receiver since he injured a knee in a 31-30 loss to the Redskins on Oct. 25.

"It's good to get the guys back there doing something," coach Lovie Smith said. "You want as many options as possible.

"(Jackson) was limited (Thursday). (Wednesday) he wasn't able to do anything. (Thursday) he was able to get a few reps and able to run around a little bit, which is a step in the right direction."

Jackson' three missed games are the most he has missed with an injury since his rookie season in 2005.

Without Jackson, the Bucs have put a heavy workload on Mike Evans, who has been targeted 32 times in the past two games. The Bucs have scored two offensive touchdowns in the past two games, both coming on runs by QB Jameis Winston.

The only player not practicing Thursday was DE George Johnson (right calf). DE Josh Shirley was added to the injury report with a calf problem but practiced on a limited basis.

EAGLES' TEMPO AN ISSUE: Eagles coach Chip Kelly likes to play fast on offense. Very fast. His team, which plays the Bucs on Sunday, entered Thursday second to the Texans in the NFL averaging 70.8 plays per game and had 88 offensive snaps in a loss to the Dolphins on Sunday. By contrast, the Bucs prefer to slow things and average eight fewer snaps per game.

The Eagles' uptempo attack could put pressure on the Bucs defense, which might not be as free to substitute if the Eagles are able to string together first downs.

"It can be a challenge," Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "You look at the tape and you see teams being caught with 12 (players) on the field, not being able to match up, not getting calls in, guys turning around and looking for a call. It's something we've talked about. We worked on it. … It can create some problems when you're talking about substitutions, getting calls into the defense.

"It's the tempo that makes you feel like you're under more pressure than you actually are. … (The Eagles are) not running a lot of plays. They're not giving you a lot of personnel groups. So you've got to hold your composure, keep playing, and if you're out there a little fatigued, keep playing."

BACK IT UP: The Bucs likely again will face a backup quarterback. Sunday, they beat the Cowboys' Matt Cassel, who was replacing injured starter Tony Romo. This weekend the Bucs are expected to face Mark Sanchez instead of injured Eagles starter Sam Bradford. On Nov. 29, injured Colts starter Andrew Luck is expected to be replaced by 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck.

"We're not worrying about the quarterback," LB Kwon Alexander said of Sanchez. "He's a good quarterback, too, so you never know. He could come out there and throw passes on you, too, so just go out there, do what we're supposed to do and do our responsibilities."

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