Mayfield practices with sore ribs, plans to start Buccaneers’ must-win finale against Panthers


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Baker Mayfield’s sore ribs won’t stop the Tampa Bay quarterback from trying to help the Buccaneers clinch a division title and playoff berth in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Carolina.

Mayfield, injured when he took a late hit in the closing minutes of last week’s 23-13 home loss to New Orleans, practiced Friday and plans to start against the Panthers, who stand between the Bucs and a third straight NFC South championship.

“He’s full-go. He’ll be ready to go on Sunday,” coach Todd Bowles said. “I expect him to be the same as he always was.”

In addition to clinching the division, a victory over Carolina (2-14) would send the Bucs (8-8) into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the NFC.

Mayfield led Tampa Bay to a 4-1 record in December to rebound from a stretch in which the Bucs lost six of seven games. The Buccaneers have climbed back into contention for what would be a franchise-record fourth consecutive playoff berth.

The sixth-year pro, who’s with his fourth team in three seasons, was injured when Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu hit him after Mayfield released a pass on a 2-point conversion attempt last Sunday.

The quarterback was limited in practice Thursday before being listed as a full participant Friday.

It’s unclear if Mayfield will wear extra padding to protect his midsection on Sunday.

“I’m sure he’ll be protected,” Bowles said. “I don’t know how much.”

Meanwhile, linebacker Shaquil Barrett (groin), cornerback Carlton Davis (concussion) and tight end Ko Kieft (shoulder) are all expected to play Sunday after being inactive a week ago against New Orleans.



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