Todd Bowles rules out 3 Bucs, with Mike Edwards also a game-day decision

Logan Ryan, Akiem Hicks and Sean Murphy-Bunting all will miss Sunday’s game against the Steelers.
Sean Murphy-Bunting left last weekend's game against the Falcons with a quad injury. He was one of three players that Bucs head coach Todd Bowles on Friday ruled out for Sunday's game against the Steelers.
Sean Murphy-Bunting left last weekend's game against the Falcons with a quad injury. He was one of three players that Bucs head coach Todd Bowles on Friday ruled out for Sunday's game against the Steelers. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Oct. 14, 2022|Updated Oct. 15, 2022

TAMPA — Safety Logan Ryan, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting won’t play against the Steelers on Sunday, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said following Friday’s practice.

None of the players practiced this week. Ryan, dealing with a foot injury, missed last weekend’s game against the Falcons. Hicks, who also injured his foot, hasn’t played since Week 2. And Murphy-Bunting exited the Atlanta game with a quad injury.

Additionally, Bowles said safety Mike Edwards will be a “game-day decision” due to his elbow injury. He was listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report. Edwards also left the game against the Falcons early and has been a limited participant in practice while wearing an elbow brace.

Julio Jones (knee) was the only other Tampa Bay player with an injury designation. He’s doubtful entering the weekend.

Tight end Cameron Brate (concussion); receivers Jaelon Darden (tooth), Breshad Perriman (knee/hamstring), Russell Gage (ankle) and Chris Godwin (hip/knee/rest); offensive tackle Donovan Smith (elbow); cornerback Carlton Davis (hip); outside linebacker Carl Nassib (illness) and defensive lineman William Gholston (rest) were full participants in Friday’s practice. Receiver Mike Evans and linebacker Lavonte David took veteran rest days.

With the absences of Ryan and Murphy-Bunting, the Bucs will rely on reserve members of their secondary to plug those roles when needed.

Rookie cornerback Zyon McCollum made his NFL debut last week after being inactive for the first four games of the season, recovering from a preseason hamstring injury for part of the time. He played on special teams while also logging 13 defensive snaps when Murphy-Bunting and Davis left early.

Bowles said Friday that he’s “very comfortable with Zyon” if McCollum needs to take on a larger role.

“It’s big for the young guys to step up,” Bowles said. “They trained all year. We keep people on this team for a reason, and at some point, everyone’s gonna have to contribute. It’s just their turn.”

The Steelers will also have a depleted secondary, as Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee), Cameron Sutton (hamstring), Levi Wallace (concussion) and Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) were ruled out. Tight end Pat Freiermuth (concussion) and defensive end DeMarvin Leal (knee) will also miss the game.

Continuing to improve in short-yardage situations

The Bucs started the season by going 4-for-11 across their first two games in third- and fourth-down situations with three or fewer yards needed. Two of those plays ended in turnovers.

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Over the last three games, Tampa Bay went 14-for-17 (82.4%) and improved its season-long rate to 18-for-28 (64.3%). The Bucs rushed the ball four times in those situations against the Falcons, and on three of those plays they turned to No. 2 running back Rachaad White.

The Bucs are 1-for-3 in 4th-and-1 situations this year. Their lone conversion came on a 4-yard completion from Tom Brady to Cole Beasley against the Packers.

“You gotta be able to convert, especially those 4th-and-1s …” offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said Thursday. “We’ll correct everything from a schematic standpoint to make sure we’re always right, but that’s kinda disappointing because we’re in a good spot in those downs and we found some ways not to execute and not to get that job done.”

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