Amid a series of offensive injuries, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense has remained relatively healthy so far this season.
Buc’s defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will miss a month with a foot injury he sustained in New Orleans on Sunday, September 18. A source said ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Hicks, a 2018 Pro Bowler, “tore the plantar fascia in his foot,” Schefter wrote. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles confirmed during his radio show that Hicks will not be playing in Week 3 by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
Hicks produced in the first two games with five tackles and a quarterback hit before retiring with the injury in the first half of the Saints game. The Bucs signed Hicks as a free agent to bolster the defensive line, as former Bucs defensive end Ndamukong Suh remained unsigned.
Hicks also had a past connection with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, as the two played together in New England during the 2015 season. Despite Hicks’ success with the Chicago Bears since 2016, he has struggled with multiple injuries, particularly in the last three seasons. He only played nine games last season with groin and ankle injuries, and he only played five games in 2019 due to knee and elbow injuries.
Buc’s rookie defensive tackle Logan Hall could likely step in for Hicks next month. Hall snapped 49 times between the first two games and had one tackle.
The Bucs also have veteran defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who started 11 games for the injured Vita Vea during the 2020 Super Bowl run. Nunez-Roches has two tackles this season and 101 career tackles in eight seasons.
It falls to Hall and/or Nunez-Roches to make it big amid the Bucs’ strong defense so far. The Bucs were conceding a best 6.5 points per game, and it was seven quarters before the defense gave up their first touchdown of the season.
Tampa Bay has a strong defensive line next to Hall or Nunez-Roches. Vea has been one of the better run stoppers in the league for a number of years. He had 33 tackles and four stacks last year, and this season he has 1.5 sacks and three tackles in two games. Defensive tackle Will Gholston had 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season. Gholston has one tackle and one quarterback hit in 54 defensive snaps this year.
Tampa Bay also lost offensive tackle Josh Wells in New Orleans, and he “probably” won’t play in Week 3, Bowles said on his radio show per Greg Auman of The Athletic.
The Bucs offensive remains much more battered than the defense. Offensive tackle Donovan Smith and wide receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones missed the Saints game through injuries.
Buc’s offensive tackle Brandon Walton could start in place of Wells and Smith after a solid performance against the Saints. The Bucs addressed the lack of wide receivers on Tuesday, Sept. 20, by signing former second-team All-Pro Cole Beasley to the practice squad. Beasley could move up to the active squad for the Packers game.