Despite sore ribs, Mayfield plans to play

Published 6:59 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Baker Mayfield has sore ribs and did not practice Wednesday, but the Tampa Bay quarterback says he’ll do everything he can to be ready to try to help the Buccaneers clinch a division title and playoff berth against the Carolina Panthers.

Mayfield was injured last week when he took a late hit after releasing a pass on a 2-point conversion attempt in the final two minutes of a 23-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The defeat kept the Bucs (8-8) from clinching a third consecutive division title. They’ll get another shot at it Sunday against the Panthers (2-14).

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“Pretty sore, but I’ll be good. It’s just one of those things — it’s tender,” Mayfield said. “I’ve dealt with rib injuries before, but rest and just (time) as the week goes on helps.”

Instead of a normal mid-week practice, the Bucs held a walkthrough session Wednesday. But coach Todd Bowles said if the team had practiced, Mayfield would not have participated.

“I know he’s going to do everything he can to play. I’m not a doctor, I can’t feel what Baker is feeling, so I can’t tell you how he’s going to feel (or) if he’s able to play,” Bowles said. “If he can play, I know he’s going to try and play.”

If Mayfield doesn’t play, the Bucs will turn to third-year backup Kyle Trask.

“It’s always a concern when one of your star players (is) hurt. We’ll see how it goes. We have confidence in Trask if he has to play,” Bowles said. “Baker is going to try and play. If he’s not healthy, he can’t play. If he’s healthy enough to play, he will.”

Mayfield is trying to lead a team to the playoffs for just the second time in his six-year career. He’s confident he’ll be able to play Sunday.

“Obviously, I didn’t exactly test it out today. Just more mental reps for everybody,” the quarterback said. “I’m just going to see. … I’m sure by the time we get closer to gametime, adrenaline will be rolling, especially with where we are sitting at right now, situationally.”