Bucs journal: Will Gholston deemed 'neurologically sound' after leaving with neck injury

Bucs defensive end William Gholston is carted off the field on a stretcher following a neck injury during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
Bucs defensive end William Gholston is carted off the field on a stretcher following a neck injury during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Published Nov. 5, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — Jameis Winston wasn't the only key Bucs player sidelined during Sunday's 30-10 loss to the Saints with an injury.

Most concerning was a third-quarter neck injury to DE Will Gholston, who had to be strapped to a stretcher and carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for further testing. The Bucs had no medical updates Sunday night, but coach Dirk Koetter said that Gholston was "neurologically sound" and was cleared to fly back to Tampa with the team, an encouraging sign.

"We send our prayers to him," said Winston, who sat out the second half of the game with another injury to his throwing shoulder, though he said he expects to be able to play next week at home against the Jets.

The Bucs also played the second half without LT Donovan Smith, who had not missed a single snap in 39 games in the NFL. Smith left the game with a knee injury, with no details on the severity or how long he might be sidelined.

The Bucs shifted LG Kevin Pamphile to left tackle and put Evan Smith in at left guard, but Smith left with an injury of his own. That put Pamphile back at left guard and Caleb Benenoch at left tackle, leaving the Bucs with five healthy linemen.

BAD TO WORSE: The Bucs went three-and-out on their first drive, and the punt was backed up five yards when LB Devante Bond was flagged for a false start. On the re-kick, Saints rookie Justin Hardee got past Bond and up the middle to block the punt from Bryan Anger, recovering the loose ball for an easy 7-yard touchdown and a 9-0 lead. It's Anger's first punt blocked since he joined the team last season.

Bucs CB Ryan Smith blocked the Saints' extra point, Tampa Bay's first blocked kick since Gholston in 2015.

STRUGGLING: The Bucs had hoped to establish a consistent run game but had no luck with starter Doug Martin, who had five carries for 3 yards in the first quarter. Tampa Bay got a spark from backup Peyton Barber, who had 10 carries for 34 yards. Martin finished with 7 yards on eight carries, a career low for yards in his 62 games with the Bucs.

"We were just trying to find a way to get something going," Koetter said. "Peyton went in there and found a way to get some yards after contact."

MILESTONE: The Bucs threw for only 135 yards, the fewest in any game since Koetter took over as offensive coordinator in 2015. Winson only threw for 67 yards, but that put him over 10,000 yards for his career, the second-youngest quarterback to reach the milestone. Only Drew Bledsoe was younger.

BACK INSIDE: A week after playing well at outside cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves was back inside at nickel, with Ryan Smith and Robert McClain starting on the outside. That put Hargreaves, last year's first-round pick, back in a part-time role, and he finished with one tackle and no passes defensed.

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THIS AND THAT: With the win, Drew Brees now has 16 as a starting quarterback against the Bucs, passing Brett Favre for the most all-time. ... Lavonte David forced a fumble for the fourth time this season, matching his career high for a season and giving him 16 for his career. ... Rookie WR Chris Godwin recovered a muffed punt on special teams to set up the Bucs' only touchdown.

Contact Greg Auman at and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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