Bucs’ Vea is out; Boyd Bengals and Higgins are on the right track
TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles ruled out defensive tackle Vita VIA, outside linebacker Gennard Avery, outside linebacker Karl Nassib and cornerback Jamal Dean for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, while Bengals coach Zach Taylor said he “feels good about it.” State of the Game for Wide Receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.
Boyd suffered a dislocated finger in the team’s Week 14 win over the Cleveland Browns, while Higgins pitched only one hit with a hamstring injury.
At 6-7, the Bucs are one game ahead of the Carolina Panthers for first place in the NFC South, while the Bengals (9-4) are looking to break the tie with the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the AFC North and are on a five-game winning streak.
The Bucs finished last week’s 35-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers with only five starting players on defense and it may have fallen even shorter this week, while Cincinnati will be without two defensive starters. Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson has been ruled out with a wrist injury, while cornerback Mike Helton will miss the game with a knee problem. Hilton’s backup, Jalen Davis, has not practiced all week due to a finger injury on his right hand.
For the Bucs, Vea, arguably one of their best players on defense, suffered a calf strain in the 49ers game, while Dean suffered a big toe injury, with both players leaving the game and not returning. Nassib, who sustained a chest injury in the match, and Avery, who sustained an abdominal injury, continued playing.
Outside linebacker Joe Tryon Soyinka, who left the game with a groin injury early in the third quarter and did not return, was “likely a gametime decision,” Bowles said Friday, offering some hope, as is Anthony Nelson. The only healthy outside linebacker. The Bucs lost Pro Bowler Shaquil Barrett earlier in the season to a torn Achilles.
Bowles said the safety of Mike Edwards, linebacker Shaun Murphy-Bunting and nickelback Antoine Winfield Jr. — all of whom were out in the previous two games — would be in question. Edwards was dealing with a hamstring injury, Murphy-Banting’s quadriceps injury, and Winfield’s ankle injury.
Murphy Ponting, last year’s starter, was a full participant in practice this week.
“It’s still questionable,” Bowles said. “He’s heading forward. We’ll see how he reacts in the next couple of days.”
Edwards was limited on Wednesday but was upgraded to full involvement on Thursday.
“It was probably a game time decision,” Bowles said. “He did a few things. I gotta see him do a little bit more.”
Winfield has been restricted all week but seemed comfortable running and jumping on his injured ankle Friday during part of the training open to the media.
“He’s also made great progress – it’s going to be a gametime decision,” Bowles said.
Bowles said earlier this week that All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wervis, who missed the previous two games with a sprained ankle, likely won’t play on Sunday. But Bowles did not rule him out on Friday. The Wirfs returned to practice on Thursday as a limited entrant.
ESPN’s Ben Pepe contributed to this report
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