We kept our heads above water last week with a 9-7 record and we are hopeful for an improvement in…
Bucs- Jaguars Game Snapshot
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Chad Pennington
PREDICTION: Buccaneers 24-17
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jaguars' play-calling has been extremely conservative, with very few vertical routes to test the development of QB Blaine Gabbert. Granted, he's playing behind a beat-up offensive line and has few proven downfield threats. RB Maurice Jones-Drew enters as the league's rushing leader while Tampa Bay is allowing and average of 168.8 rushing yards during its six-game losing streak. With QB Josh Freeman day-to-day with a shoulder injury, Josh Johnson could get his second straight start for the Bucs. While he's more mobile, the Jaguars' vulnerability is over the top against their depleted secondary.
FAST FACTS: Jones-Drew has 1,434 of the Jaguars' 3,297 total yards (43.5 percent). ... The Bucs converted 42.2 percent of third downs last year, but just 35.6 this season.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Josh Freeman's right shoulder is feeling much better and so are the Buccaneers about their chances against Jacksonville.
Freeman participated in several full periods of practice and threw the football well Thursday, offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. So well, in fact, the Bucs didn't want to push their luck and pulled him out of practice to ice down his shoulder.
If Freeman's shoulder is pain-free on Friday, the Bucs will likely go with him Sunday against the Jaguars.
"We were able to give Josh a couple full periods today," Olson said. "And really, he felt good. We did it for our own selves, to be honest with you, and we pulled him out. We'll get a chance to see how he feels tomorrow. He felt good afterwards. He iced it down at the later part of practice. But he threw it well in the period that he did practice in."
Freeman's streak of 36 straight starts ended last week against Carolina. He suffered a right shoulder injury on a failed fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak.
Behind backup quarterback Josh Johnson, the Bucs failed to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter in their 38-19 loss to the Panthers.
"Josh Johnson has done a nice job in that role," Olson said. "But we'll get a better feel for it when we look at them tomorrow."
Regardless of which quarterback plays against the Jaguars, Olson plans to simplify some of the Bucs' base run schemes to eliminate assignment errors.
"I just feel the execution has not been as sharp," Olson said. "We've tried to put our thumb on it throughout the season and I just said it's got to be volume because I look at things and say we're executing them in practice and then at times we get into a game and there will be a mental mistake, or a wrong step or an alignment issue. So it's just time to cut back now."
The Jaguars' injury woes keep piling up. Offensive tackle Guy Whimper was limited in practice Thursday for the second consecutive day with a thigh injury.
If he can't practice, they'll start Cameron Bradfield, who has played in six games and started one.
He was signed after the lockout as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Grand Valley State.
Another starter, safety Dwight Lowery, also was limited for the second consecutive day with a shoulder injury and if he can't play, rookie Chris Posinski will start in his place.
The Jaguars are already missing three defensive ends. John Chick went on IR last week and both Matt Roth (concussion) and Aaron Kampman (hamstring) didn't practice for the second consecutive day and neither was on the field during media viewing time. Kampman was later placed on injured reserve.
Roth has missed the last two games and Kampman the last four.
And they're missing a fourth defensive end, Austen Lane, who went on IR earlier this year.
They also have three starting cornerbacks - Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and William Middleton - on IR and are starting backups Ashton Youboty and rookie Kevin Rutland. Youboty gave up two touchdowns and Rutland one to the Chargers last Monday night.
Of the injuries, interim coach Mel Tucker said, "I don't see anyone making excuses or offering explanations for anything. All I see is preparation and enthusiasm."
--QB Josh Freeman participated in full passing periods Thursday in practice and had no discomfort in his right shoulder. Barring a setback, there is a good chance he could play Sunday against the Jaguars.
--CB Aqib Talib aggravated a hamstring injury against the Panthers and is week to week. He's not expected to play Sunday against the Jaguars.
--RB Mossis Madu could see more playing time in third-down situations, offensive coordinator Greg Olson said.
--DE Tim Crowder has passed the NFL-mandated battery of tests following his concussion against the Panthers but did not practice again Thursday.
--DE Michael Bennett, who missed the past two games with a groin injury, practiced again Thursday and will play against the Jaguars but will not start the game.
--DE Matt Roth, who missed the last two games with a concussion, missed practice Thursday for the second consecutive day.
--OT Guy Whimper was limited in practice Thursday for the second consecutive day and may not start.
--S Dwight Lowery was limited in practice Thursday for the second consecutive day and his status is uncertain.
--WR Cecil Shorts was limited in practice Thursday for the second consecutive day with a hamstring injury and his status is uncertain.
--CB T.J. Heath, who wasn't on the injury report Wednesday, was limited Thursday with a shoulder injury.
--TE Marcedes Lewis went full go in practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday with an ankle injury.
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