Injuries sideline pair of safeties
TAMPA — The Bucs will be thin at safety against the Saints.
SS Justin Evans (toe) and FS Isaiah Johnson (concussion) didn’t practice this week and are out for Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium.
Evans returned last week after missing two games and played 25 snaps in a victory against the Panthers. He has been wearing a boot on his right foot. Johnson played just 28 snaps.
Last week, FS Andrew Adams played a season-high 32 snaps and made three interceptions. SS Jordan Whitehead played 61.
Cornerbacks Carlton Davis (knee), Brent Grimes (ankle) and M.J. Stewart (foot) all practiced this week. Davis is listed as doubtful, and Grimes and Stewart are questionable. Last week, cornerbacks Javien Elliott and De’Vante Harris played 66 and 70 snaps, respectively.
Of those three cornerbacks potentially returning, coach Dirk Koetter said that Stewart would be the most likely to be able to shift to safety, but he added they’ve tried number of defensive backs at various positions.
Stewart, who has mostly played slot corner, is returning after missing the past five games.
“I think we’re going to have nine DBs up, and those nine guys are going to have to fill five or six spots depending on whether you’re in base, nickel or dime (coverage),” Koetter said.
WR DeSean Jackson (thumb) continued to be absent from practice Friday. He hasn’t practiced all week, so he’s also likely out for Sunday. DE Jason PierrePaul (knee) returned to practice with a brace on his left knee after missing Wednesday and Thursday.