TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers received some good news Wednesday when defensive tackle Gerald McCoy returned to practice.
It was a welcome sight for the Bucs, who have had their share of bad news as they get ready to take on San Francisco.
Tampa put veteran receiver Vincent Jackson on injured reserve Tuesday. On Wednesday, running back Doug Martin, defensive linemen Robert Ayers and Clinton McDonald still were not practicing, leaving doubt their availability for Sunday’s matchup with the 49ers.
It looked like Martin could return for this week after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury. But Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Martin suffered a recent setback and it is unclear when he’ll return.
“Doug unfortunately did suffer a setback a week ago Sunday,” Koetter said. “We’ll have to see when he can make it back. There’s no timetable on that right now.
“We would love to be at full strength,” Koetter said. “We’ll definitely get some of the guys back who haven’t played. We already talked about Doug having a little bit of a setback. I wish I could give you more.”
With Martin out, the Bucs will again turn to Jacquizz Rodgers. The sixth-year back set career highs with 30 rushes for 101 yards in the team’s 17-14 win against the Carolina Panthers. The Bucs also signed running back Antone Smith on Tuesday.
Ayers suffered an ankle injury and has missed the last three games, while McDonald has a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the Carolina game. Tampa Bay was without three of their four starting defensive linemen against the Panthers but McCoy’s return would be a huge boost for the Buccaneers.
McCoy missed the team’s win over the Panthers with a calf injury. The three-time Pro Bowler is tied for the team lead in sacks with two. McCoy also has two pass deflections and three tackles for losses this season.
The return of tight end Luke Stocker and wide receiver Cecil Shorts are also big for the Buccaneers.
Stocker has missed the last three games with an ankle injury, while Shorts has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury. Stocker is the team’s best blocking tight end and he at times lines up in the backfield as a lead blocker for the running back.
Shorts has played 11 snaps in two games and has one catch for 12 yards on the season. The sixth-year veteran does bring experience to a young lineup and can help take some of the pressure off of Mike Evans and the young receivers.