Tampa Bay Buccaneers Without Starting Safeties at Thursday Practice

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be without two key players in their secondary when they face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. Safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. and Mike Edwards were both unable to practice Thursday, jeopardizing their availability for Sunday's game. Winfield and Edwards both missed the Bucs' Monday Night Football 17-16 win over the New Orleans Saints with injuries suffered in a Week 12 23-17 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns. Winfield sustained an ankle injury, and Edwards tweaked his hamstring.

When available, Edwards and Winfield are highly effective starters in the Bucs' deep and sometimes dominant secondary. They rank third and fourth in tackles for a defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest points in the league and the fifth-fewest net yards per passing attempt. If they miss Sunday's game, the Bucs will be forced to lean heavily on defensive backs Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal, who both joined the team earlier this year on modest one-year deals.

Winfield joined the Bucs as their 45th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and immediately slotted in as a starter, helping the team to a Super Bowl win in 2020 and earning his first Pro Bowl in 2021. Edwards arrived on the Bucs as their 99th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and served as a play-making rotational safety before earning a full-time starting role this season. He snatched five interceptions from 2020 to 2021 despite only playing 719 total snaps.
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