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No Robert Ayers or Evan Smith for Buccaneers vs. Falcons

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The Bucs take a hit in the trenches this week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without left guard Evan Smith and defensive end Robert Ayers this week, head coach Dirk Koetter confirmed today. They’ll have to face the Atlanta Falcons while being significantly weakened in the trenches—not a great prospect for the Bucs.

Ayers and Smith are both dealing with concussions, and haven’t been able to pass the concussion protocol. That means the Bucs will have to play Kevin Pamphile at left guard full-time, with veteran center Joe Hawley likely being active for the first time this week.

Meanwhile at defensive end, the Bucs will presumably play William Gholston in Ayers’ place. Gholston just returned from a neck injury himself, and will have to carry much of the defensive load—the Bucs are extremely thin at defensive end. Gholston should boost the Bucs’ run defense, at least, but he’s much less productive as a pass-rusher than Ayers is.

In addition, the Bucs will also be without quarterback Jameis Winston for the third straight game, as announced earlier this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick will once again start in his place. Vernon Hargreaves will presumably also be out for the second straight game, as he has yet to practice this week.