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Who might be missing for the Bucs vs. Panthers on Sunday? Grab a pen

Notes | The Bucs could be without three of their top linebackers and possibly one of their top wide receivers in Sunday’s division matchup.
 
Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) makes a catch as he is tackled by Colts cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. (39) during the second half of last Sunday's game in Indianapolis.
Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) makes a catch as he is tackled by Colts cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. (39) during the second half of last Sunday's game in Indianapolis. [ MICHAEL CONROY | AP ]
Published Dec. 1, 2023|Updated Dec. 2, 2023

TAMPA — The Bucs will be without injured linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White as well as cornerback Jamel Dean on Sunday against the Panthers. Defensive end Mike Greene also was placed on injured reserve.

The Bucs will also be waiting to see if rookie linebacker SirVocea Dennis and wide receiver Chris Godwin, who is dealing with a neck injury, will be healthy enough to play. Neither was at the portion of practice open to the media Friday and Bowles considers both game-time decisions.

Dennis, who has missed practice all week with an illness, seems doubtful. “SirVocea has a long way to go,” coach Todd Bowles said.

So the Bucs very well could be without their top three inside linebackers — David, White and Dennis — in a crucial division game as they are fighting to stay in the playoff hunt.

Bowles said K.J. Britt and J.J. Russell will be playing Sunday. Patrick O’Connor was moved to the active roster when Greene went on IR.

“I feel good about them stepping up,” he said. “I think they’ve played before. They got in the game last year against Atlanta. K.J. has been here for a of couple years. He’s a natural-born leader. And J.J. can tackle.”

Britt will have the “green sticker,” meaning he will have the communication helmet to help line up the defense on Sunday, Bowles said.

Bucs linebacker K.J. Britt (52) celebrates after he makes a tackle against the Eagles back in September.
Bucs linebacker K.J. Britt (52) celebrates after he makes a tackle against the Eagles back in September. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Britt could step into an every-down role in the middle of the defense; the 2021 fifth-round pick from Auburn has 33 career tackles, but 19 are on special teams. He’s only played 83 defensive snaps in three years with the Bucs.

Russell is in his second season with the Bucs and has three career tackles. If Dennis is ruled out and the Bucs need a third linebacker, they might have to turn to Vi Jones, an undrafted free agent (2022) out of N.C. State who is on the practice squad and does not have any defensive snaps in his NFL career.

Godwin, who has gone four straight games without a touchdown catch, has had the neck issue for a while, “but he aggravated it (Thursday),” Bowles said.

If he cannot play, Bowles said he will slot in Trey Palmer and Deven Thompkins.

David (groin), Dean (ankle) and Greene (calf) missed last week’s loss to the Colts as well.

Rachaad White’s cleats for a cause

Bucs running back Rachaad White shows off his Cleats for a Cause that he'll be wearing in Sunday's game against the Panthers.
Bucs running back Rachaad White shows off his Cleats for a Cause that he'll be wearing in Sunday's game against the Panthers. [ KRISTIE ACKERT | Times ]
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On Sunday for the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” initiative, running back Rachaad White will wear cleats designed to bring awareness to Cure SMA, an organization that helps people impacted by spinal muscular atrophy. White will honor 6-year-old Emma Schnyders of St. Petersburg, who has the chronic neuromuscular disease. Doctors initially said Emma likely would live to only age 2.

“I just have had an opportunity to hang with (father Ryan) and his family this offseason, and just to see her defeat all the odds meant a lot to me,” White said. “So I’m a huge advocate for Cure SMA.”

Ryan Schnyders, who is White’s real estate agent, brought Emma and younger brother Tyler to the training center Friday to see White show off his purple and white cleats.

“Words can’t express how grateful we are for Rachaad to be an advocate for my daughter and for the other little kids like her,” Ryan said.

Contact Kristie Ackert at kackert@tampabay.com.

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