The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be missing a whole bunch of players against the Cleveland Browns tonight. In all, five starters will be out, including two offensive lineman and the first lineman to come off the bench in case of injury. J.R. Sweezy still is not healthy and likely won’t be for another month, while right guard Ali Marpet suffered an ankle injury in practice this week. Apparently, Kevin Pamphile also suffered an injury as the backup guard/tackle will not be suiting up either.
In addition, starters defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, tight end Luke Stocker and linebacker Daryl Smith won’t be playing, though at least their roster spots are safe. That can’t be said of running back Mike James, wide receiver Devante Bond or wide receiver Evan Spencer. Making the 53-man roster got a little harder for them now that they won’t be able to show their skills tonight. That’s especially relevant for Bond, who’s facing stiff competition at linebacker despite his status as a sixth-round pick. James is a little more likely to make the roster as the third or fourth running back, while Spencer will likely miss out on a roster spot.
It’s possible that some of these absences are caused not by injury, but by a coach’s decision to spare players who have earned their roster and/or starting spot, and to give other players some extra playing time.
The Bucs play the Browns at 8:00 p.m. ET in a nationally televised game. Stick with us for all the coverage you need.