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Antoine Winfield Jr. still absent from Bucs practice, but Cameron Brate returns

Tampa Bay Times 11/2/2022 Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times
Former Bucs coach Bruce Arians answers questions about his decision to retire from coaching during a March 31 press conference. Arians formally will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at a halftime ceremony of the Jan. 1 home game against the Panthers. © Douglas Clifford/Tampa Bay Times/TNS Former Bucs coach Bruce Arians answers questions about his decision to retire from coaching during a March 31 press conference. Arians formally will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at a halftime ceremony of the Jan. 1 home game against the Panthers.

TAMPA — Bucs Pro Bowl safety Antoine Winfield Jr. did not participate in Wednesday’s practice and remains in concussion protocol, leaving his status for Sunday’s home showdown against the Rams unclear.

“He’s making progress,” head coach Todd Bowles said following Wednesday’s indoor workout at AdventHealth Training Center. “We’ll see how the week goes.”

Also absent were rookie left guard Luke Goedeke (foot), receivers Julio Jones (knee) and Russell Gage (hamstring), and guard Shaq Mason (personal reasons/ankle).

The absence of Goedeke, who didn’t play in last week’s 27-22 loss to the Ravens, suggests Nick Leverett could get his second NFL start on Sunday. Jones played for the first time in nearly a month Thursday, catching an 8-yard scoring pass from Tom Brady in the final minute, but appeared to exit the field gingerly at least once.

On the positive side, tight end Cameron Brate, out since being carted off the field during the Oct. 16 loss to the Steelers with what was later diagnosed as a sprained neck, was a limited participant. Also present, and practicing fully, were previously injured cornerbacks Carlton Davis (hip) and Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad), sidelined the last two and three games, respectively.

Bucs tight end Cameron Brate hasn't played since suffering a sprained neck in a frightening collision against the Steelers on Oct. 16. © Jefferee Woo/Tampa Bay Times/TNS Bucs tight end Cameron Brate hasn't played since suffering a sprained neck in a frightening collision against the Steelers on Oct. 16.

Davis said afterward his hip felt “great,” adding he’s “ready to get back out there and be productive for the team.” Offering a similar sentiment was defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who said his plantar fascia (which he tore in Week 2) was “quite a bit better” compared to the previous week, when he was deemed inactive against the Ravens.

“Things have been progressing faster for me,” said Hicks, also a full participant Wednesday. “So I’m just thankful to be in this position and to be able to contribute.”

The return of Brate, by contrast, doesn’t see imminent, despite Wednesday’s encouraging sign.

“I mean, he’s running around,” Bowles said. “He’s not really out there practicing, but he is running around in gear, so he’s making some progress.”

In other news, the team signed reserve offensive lineman John Molchon and linebacker J.J. Russell from the practice squad to the active roster. Tampa Bay had two roster vacancies after placing outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett on injured reserve and waiving backup offensive lineman Fred Johnson.

Arians to enter Ring of Honor Jan. 1

The Bucs announced they’ll formally induct former coach Bruce Arians into the franchise’s Ring of Honor during halftime of their Jan. 1 home game against the Panthers.

Arians, 70, originally was set to be inducted Oct. 2, when the Bucs hosted the Chiefs in a Sunday night game, but the ceremony was postponed after Hurricane Ian ravaged parts of Florida’s west coast and had the NFL arranging contingency plans in case the game had to be moved.

Arians retired in March after amassing a 31-18 regular season record, a 5-1 postseason mark and a Super Bowl crown in three seasons in Tampa Bay. He’ll be the 14th Ring of Honor entrant and fourth Bucs coach to receive the honor.

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