TAMPA — Veteran Bucs tight end Cameron Brate, who entered concussion protocol midway through last weekend’s game against the Chiefs, won’t play Sunday against the Falcons, coach Todd Bowles said Friday.
Brate appeared at Friday’s practice with a helmet and was seen doing light agility work during the brief practice window open to reporters, but Bowles ruled him out for Sunday.
“He’s not in play for Sunday right now, but he’s feeling better,” Bowles said.
Additionally, the anticipated matchup of veteran receiver Julio Jones against his former team remains in question.
Jones, who crafted a potential Hall of Fame career in 10 seasons in Atlanta and remains the Falcons’ career receptions leader (848), formally is listed as questionable for Sunday with fellow receiver Breshad Perriman (knee, hamstring).
Jones, nursing a torn posterior cruciate ligament that reportedly won’t need surgery, has appeared in only two of four games to this point. He managed only one reception against the Chiefs and didn’t complete the game.
He didn’t address reporters this week and has had limited practice participation. When asked Thursday how Jones looked at practice, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said, “He looked OK. We’ll see. We’ll see on Sunday.”
Brate’s 11 catches (for 100 yards) are five more than the team’s three other tight ends combined. Rookies Cade Otton and Ko Kieft and veteran Kyle Rudolph are the only others on the active roster.
“The way that (Otton and Kieft) practice every day, they don’t have (mental error), they don’t do the wrong thing — they always do the right thing,” Leftwich said. “That’s what’s special about these two, you can put them in the huddle and feel comfortable that they’ll do the right thing.”
Elsewhere, two defensive veterans — safety Logan Ryan and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks — are the only other players formally listed as out for Sunday. Both are nursing foot injuries.
Pitts won’t play
Falcons second-year tight end Kyle Pitts, the team’s most prominent pass-catching threat, has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.
The former Gators All-American is tied for second on the team with 10 catches for 150 yards, behind rookie receiver Drake London (18 receptions, 231 yards, two touchdowns). Bowles said the absence of Pitts and Falcons rushing leader Cordarrelle Patterson (injured reserve) won’t affect the Bucs’ defensive game plan, considering Atlanta’s run-oriented approach and ensemble of backs.
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The Falcons entered Week 5 ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (168.0) and sixth in yards per attempt (5.1).
“I don’t think (the loss of Pitts and Patterson) changes the system at all,” Bowles said.
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls
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