TAMPA — The Bucs have ruled out three injured players — safety Dashon Goldson, rookie receiver Mike Evans and defensive end Larry English — for Sunday's game at New Orleans, with linebacker Mason Foster the only key player uncertain.
Goldson's ankle injury means Major Wright will start — he had nine tackles filling in for Goldson in most of last weekend's win at Pittsburgh. Evans' groin injury means the Bucs will likely start Louis Murphy, who had a team-best six catches for 99 yards — all in the second half Sunday — including the 41-yard catch that set up the winning touchdown.
English will miss his second game in a row with a hamstring injury, but the Bucs got good production from their backups on the defensive line last weekend, with Da'Quan Bowers and Scott Solomon getting sacks and Jacquies Smith getting a fumble recovery on the opening drive.
Coach Lovie Smith stopped short of ruling out Josh McCown, who has not practiced since injuring the right thumb on his throwing hand two weeks ago. Smith said the quarterback could suit up if something were to happen to current backup Mike Kafka, but McCown would likely be left inactive on game day to allow a healthy player to dress and play.
Two players who returned from ankle injuries last weekend and played extensively — tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and defensive end Michael Johnson — have been limited in practice, but Smith reiterated they had no setbacks, and they're expected to play significant roles in New Orleans.