The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have a chance to get Robert Ayers back on the field this Sunday, which would help a battered defensive line that is slowly getting closer to full strength.
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald was ruled out for Sunday's home game against the Oakland Raiders as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. However, Ayers, the team's starting right end and one of its key offseason acquisitions, was listed as "questionable" for the game on Friday's official injury report. Ayers also progressed from limited participation in practice on Wednesday and Thursday to full participation on Friday.
Ayers recorded two tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit in a season-opening win at Atlanta, his regular-season debut as a Buccaneer. However, he suffered an ankle injury in the first half of Tampa Bay's Week Two loss at Arizona and has since missed four games. Before this week, he had participated in only one practice, on October 6.
The defensive line welcomed Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy back into the fold last week, and McCoy made an instant impact in San Francisco with a sack, three tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed. The Buccaneers totaled four sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after recording none during the game-and-a-half that McCoy missed due to a calf injury. McCoy was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday of this week and was also listed as "questionable" on Friday's report.
Running back Doug Martin will miss his fifth straight game due to a hamstring injury first sustained in Week Two and then aggravated prior to the Week Five game at Carolina. McDonald will miss a third consecutive contest due to the injury he suffered in practice that same week. Center Joe Hawley, who has missed snaps in each of the last two games due to an ankle injury, but returned to action each time, is questionable for Sunday's game after fully participating in Friday's practice.
The Raiders' will also be missing a starting defensive lineman on Sunday, as Stacy McGee was ruled out on Friday's injury report due to an ankle injury. McGee has opened each of Oakland's first six games – four at DT and one each at NT and DE – and is second on the team with 2.5 sacks. The Raiders could get starting right tackle Menelik Watson back; he has missed the last four games with an ankle injury. Watson is questionable with a calf injury; rookie Vadal Alexander, who has missed the last two games but started twice at right tackle in Watson's absence, is also questionable with an ankle injury.