The challenge of facing Cincinnati’s split backfield of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard on Sunday may have just gotten tougher for the Buccaneers.
After being held out of practice this week (Thanksgiving was an off-day) nose tackle Clinton McDonald could miss his first game of the season with a hamstring injury. If that’s the case, expect Akeem Spence to get the start.
This would be a significant loss for the Buccaneers. McDonald has drawn a lot of praise from coaches, particularly this week, as he’s continued to progress and become a dominant force along side Gerald McCoy. However if called upon, head coach Lovie Smith has full confidence in Spence.
“Yes,” Smith said. “You know we’ve been dressing eight defensive lineman for a period of time now, and all of them play. But Akeem Spence, if we dress seven, he’s a big part of what we’ve been doing. We feel very comfortable with him playing either the nose or the three-technique position because of that.”
Spence has been a part of the rotation on the defensive line, but has yet to start a game this season. The second-year pro started 14 games last year, while playing in all 16. Like Smith, Spence has no doubt he can get the job done after having experience at both interior positions on the defensive line.
“I can get in there and play nose and I can play 3-[technique],” Spence said. “I’ve been practicing all year. I mean I was a starter last year, so it’s nothing new for me. It’s just another ball game.”
Although Spence has played fewer snaps through this point in the season compared to last, his stats would say he’s improved. In 2013 he totaled 29 tackles and one sack. Through 11 games this year, he has 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He also recovered a McCoy forced fumble during the Week 11 victory in Washington.
Tampa Bay’s other options at defensive tackle appear to be Da’Quan Bowers and William Gholston. Bowers has been inactive the past two weeks and he’s been on this week’s injury report (knee) but fully participated in practice Friday and is listed as probable. Gholston primarily plays on the end of the line but has seen action inside during games.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
Bowers, Stocker need to be shown the door the day after the season ends, to much TUB time.
I wonder if there is any connection between having a losing record with limited incentive and lingering injuries. Kinda like the people who call in sick more frequently when they don’t really like their job. Just a thought.
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