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Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David continue to miss Buccaneers practice

T.J. Ward returned to action, though.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Diego Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will probably have to play the New England Patriots without at least three of their defensive starters.

Linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander as well as safety Keith Tandy missed the second consecutive day of practice, making it very unlikely they’ll be able to play on Thursday night.

David and Alexander both missed Sunday’s game against the New York Giants and were adequately replaced by Kendell Beckwith and Adarius Glanton, but the Patriots have always been excellent at exploiting rookie defenders.

Tandy’s absence is new, and would have to be filled by Justin Evans, a second-round rookie. Having him start for the first time against Tom Brady isn’t something I’m looking forward to.

With a bit of luck, though, T.J. Ward will return: he rejoined practice today on a limited basis, after missing Sunday’s game. If that happens, Evans at least won’t have to start.

As for the Patriots, they had a slew of players limited in today’s practice, though most should play on Thursday. One player probably won’t: cornerback Eric Rowe missed both of this week’s practices.