Photos from the Bucs' practice on Wednesday, October 28st at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa.
Barring rapid improvement over the weekend, Vincent Jackson will miss his first game since joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Austin Seferian-Jenkins will have to wait at least one more week for his return to the field.
With wide receiver Louis Murphy hitting injured reserve earlier in the week, the Buccaneers will have to count on some new participants in the passing game on Sunday when they take on division rival Atlanta. Jackson, who has played in 74 consecutive games including the last 54 for Tampa Bay, was listed as doubtful for Sunday's contest on the team's official injury report on Friday.
The Buccaneers promoted rookie wideout Adam Humphries from the practice squad on Wednesday and are likely to get Russell Shepard back into the mix this week. The latter wide receiver was listed as probable on that injury report after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury. Those two plus Mike Evans and rookie Donteea Dye should be the four receivers dressed for Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Seferian-Jenkins is also doubtful for Sunday's game, as are safety Major Wright (hamstring) and Clinton McDonald (pectoral). Tackle Reid Fragel (concussion) and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (groin) have already been ruled out.
"Tony McDaniel and Reid Fragel those guys haven't been able to do anything," said Head Coach Lovie Smith. "Vincent Jackson, of course hasn't practiced all week. Clinton McDonald hasn't [practiced]. It's not like they have season-ending injuries or anything like that. Major Wright, I talked to you yesterday or the day before about him tweaking his hamstring, It's looking doubtful for him. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has gotten work done this week, but not to the point where I'm going to say he's for sure playing and all that."
Seferian-Jenkins has missed the last five contests with a shoulder injury but seemed to be emerging as a vital part of the passing attack before he was hurt. The team still has three tight ends to employ against the Falcons – Brandon Myers, Luke Stocker and Cameron Brate – but are looking forward to the opportunity to get the dynamic Seferian-Jenkins back in their offensive plans. The second-year tight end took a significant step forward when he returned to the practice field this week in a limited capacity.
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"Even going back a few weeks, he's making progress," said Smith. "When you have an injury that takes a little bit of time, you have to measure that progress and we have. Taking the next step and doing things on the football field is one [step] in the right direction, but he's not 100 percent yet."
Dye and Humphries were both impressive in the preseason after signing as undrafted rookies out of Heidelberg and Clemson, respectively. Either one or the other had been on the active roster for each of the first six games; now they'll both get a chance to prove they can produce on the NFL level. Humphries had two catches during his four-week stint on the 53-man roster while Dye made his first regular-season grab with a diving seven-yard touchdown against Washington last Sunday. The Buccaneers' offense has hit its stride in recent weeks, averaging roughly 420 yards and 30 points per game over its last three outings, and Smith thinks they can keep that momentum going even with some new faces in key roles.
"We know what we would like to get accomplished," he said. "If Vincent can't go, that's just a part of it. There have been times when Jameis has thrown to Vincent and Mike hasn't been there. It's about the next guy stepping up. We feel like we still have enough weapons. It will still be about us establishing the run and when we get an opportunity. They're single-high [safety] most of the time, so you are going to have some one-on-one matchups that we'll have to win."