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Buccaneers expect to be healthy after the bye

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may get a whole lot of players back from injury next week. In fact, they expect all of their players to be back healthy next week. That’s what Dirk Koetter told Sirius XM NFL, per JoeBucsFan.

“We’re hopeful to get, you know, all our guys that missed Monday night. We’re hopeful they’ll all be back for next Sunday in San Francisco.”

The Bucs were missing five starters against the Carolina Panthers: defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, defensive end Robert Ayers, running back Doug Martin, tight end Luke Stocker, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. Getting all of those players back would obviously be a big boost for Tampa Bay.

In fact, the Bucs haven’t played a fully healthy game since week one — when they narrowly beat the now 4-1 Atlanta Falcons. And even that game was played without J.R. Sweezy, who could return after the bye, though it remains unclear whether the big free agent signing actually represents an upgrade over Kevin Pamphile at left guard.

The Bucs won’t get back a few other key players, though, most notably pass-rush specialist Jacquies Smith and running back Charles Sims, both of whom were placed on injured reserve. Sims could still return toward the end of the season, but Smith is out for the year. That’s natural for any NFL team, of course. The farther you go into the season, the more players you lose, and the more your depth needs to step up.

The worrying thing for the Bucs is that that depth has proven to be pretty inadequate over the past couple of weeks. So here’s to hoping they get and stay healthy for the rest of the year.