The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the New England Patriots on Thursday night, and will have to do so without star middle linebacker Kwon Alexander. The team has officially ruled him out with a hamstring injury for the third straight game.
Alexander will be replaced by Kendell Beckwith, as he has been since he first got injured in game one. The good news: Beckwith has been outstanding. The bad news: Beckwith is a rookie, and he’s facing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
The Bucs will also almost certainly have to line up without linebacker Lavonte David and safety Keith Tandy, both starters. Both are listed as doubtful, but have not been able to participate in practice this week.
Safety T.J. Ward is more likely to play. The former Pro Bowler was forced to miss last Sunday’s game, but was able to participate in practice on a limited basis for the past two days. Whether that’s enough to play remains to be seen.
As for the New England Patriots, they’ll be without running back Rex Burkhead and safety Eric Rowe. Both were ruled out today. Rob Gronkowski picked up a thigh injury today that limited him in practice but is exceedingly unlikely to keep him out for the actual game, and no one else is in serious danger of missing the game.