The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have clinched the NFC South crown last week against the New Orleans Saints. Instead, they came out flat and got their clocks cleaned by a more motivated, more desperate team. To add injury to insult, Baker Mayfield took a hard, late shot to the ribs by Tyrann Mathieu late in the fourth quarter and as a result his status for Sunday is in question.
While Mayfield’s ribs are not broken, they’re certainly sore. So he did not participate in practice Wednesday. Even though the Bucs only conducted a walkthrough, Todd Bowles told the media had it been a regular practice Mayfield would have been relegated to the sidelines and not taken part. Kyle Trask took his place with the starters and Bowles said he would be ready Sunday if Mayfield can’t go.
Mayfield, on the other hand, has no doubt he’s going to get himself ready to take on the Carolina Panthers and help this team clinch their third straight division title and fourth straight playoff berth;
“Division on the line. Playoffs on the line. Going back to Carolina? Yeah, I’ll do everything I can.” — Bucs QB Baker Mayfield on playing Sunday. pic.twitter.com/S7LeryW6hc— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 3, 2024
Mayfield wasn’t the only one missing on Wednesday, though. Tristan Wirfs was held out due to a shoulder injury. Ko Kieft also missed another practice after having missed all of last week.
Some good news, though - Shaquil Barrett (groin) was a full participant while Carlton Davis (concussion) was limited. Both seem on track to play in week 18 according to Bowles.
For the Panthers, they were without both their kicker and punter. Eddy Pineiro is dealing with a hamstring injury while Johnny Hekker was out due to personal reasons.
The Panthers were also without running back Miles Sanders and wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette due to illness. Limited for the Panthers were wide receiver D.J. Chark (foot), linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (groin), cornerback Troy Hill (concussion), guard Cade Mays (finger), and most notably cornerback Jaycee Horn (toe).
Horn missed the final week against the Bucs last season when Mike Evans went for over 200 yards and three touchdowns and had come off the field earlier this season on the play where Evans had a 75-yard touchdown. Horn has played Evans tough through the years and if he isn’t on the field for Carolina, the Panthers don’t have the depth to slow down the Bucs’ pass catchers.
You can view the full injury report below;
The Buccaneers and Panthers face off at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on FOX with Kenny Albert and Jonathan Vilma on the call.