Another Buc tests positive for COVID

by Gary Shelton on December 19, 2020

in general

Smith could miss Sunday's game./CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday, 4 a.m.

As the plot gets thicker and thicker, the Tampa Bay Bucs get sicker and sicker.

The Bucs, in the NFC playoff race with three games to go, had another player test positive for COVID 19 on Friday. This time, it was tackle Donovan Smith, who is in charge of protecting the blind side of quarterback Tom Brady.

Smith is often the target of fan criticism, but in his career, he has started 92 straight games for the Bucs (out of 93 the team has played). Against Kansas City, Smith thought he could play just a half, but ended up playing the whole game.

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Smith joins running back Ronald Jones II, punter Bradley Pinion, kicker Ryan Succop and long-snapper Zach Triner on the COVID list.

“He doesn’t have any symptoms or anything – it’s just the way the situation is right now," said coach Bruce Arians. "It’s a wrinkle in the plan, but we’ve got people that are capable of jumping in and playing. Josh Wells will do a heck of a job.

“We were aware of the contact – we didn’t think it was anything near where he would be not available. It’s one of those things this year – you have to be [ready] at the last second [on a] Saturday night, ready to make changes and guys have to be ready to go. It’s a very unique and special year that we’re dealing with.”

Guard Alex Kappa said that Smith would be missed.

“I think one of the biggest things that has helped us has been continuity, staying together and playing together for a while," Kappa said. "Obviously, we’ve got confidence in [Josh] Wells and we know he’s going to go out there and do well. Him and Ali [Marpet] will hold it down over there.”

Straight up, the Bucs would be a solid favorite against the Falcons,a. 4-9 team without a great pass rush. Without several regulars, however, the Bucs might have to scrap to win this one.

Here's guessing they'll find a way.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 21, Atlanta 20.

In other NFL games:

Dallas 24, Carolina 22.

Seattle 30, Washington 24.

Miami 27, New England 24.

In colleges:

Alabama 42, Florida 24.

Ohio State 38, Northwestern 28/

Wake Forest 28, FSU 24.

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