TAMPA, Fla. — The Buccaneers will be without four starters when they host the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night as quarterback Tom Brady tries to avoid three consecutive losses for the first time in 20 years and just the second time in his career.
The Bucs will be without left guard Luke Goedeke, defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr., cornerback Carlton Davis and tight end Cam Brate against the Ravens. Reserve receiver Russell Gage and backup cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting also have been ruled out.
Wide receiver Julio Jones, who is battling a knee injury, will be a game-time decision, and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who returned to practice this week for the first time since suffering a foot injury in Week 2, will be doubtful, Bowles said.
“We’ll see how he feels on [Thursday] after being out here for two days,” Bowles said of Hicks. “We’ll play it by ear.”
Goedeke, a rookie who has struggled to make the transition from college right tackle to NFL left guard, suffered a foot injury last week against the Carolina Panthers. Bowles said earlier this week that he’d get the start with Nick Leverett again rotating in, but it became apparent this week when Goedeke attempted to practice that he was not well enough to play.
Leverett will get the start.
Gage suffered a hamstring injury against the Panthers that was significant enough to warrant an MRI earlier this week, while Winfield, one of the Bucs’ best defensive playmakers, suffered a concussion against Carolina and is still in the protocol.
Davis, their top outside cornerback, was held out last week after tweaking a hip injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago and missed practice all week. Murphy-Bunting, their top reserve corner and a starter last year, also was held out last week with a quad injury, but he is continuing to progress and has been running.
Brate, who was carted off on a stretcher against the Steelers, is still dealing with a sprained neck, and the team is approaching his recovery very cautiously. There is no timetable for his return.
The Bucs will also be without backup inside linebacker K.J. Britt, a core special teams player, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with an ankle injury.