As a banged-up Baker Mayfield goes, so does Bucs’ offensive game plan

TAMPA — Baker Mayfield was on the field and going through drills Friday, but the Bucs quarterback is still dealing with rib and ankle issues.

With Tampa Bay playing their NFC Wild-Card Game against the Eagles on Monday night, he gets an extra day to heal. That also means an extra day for Dave Canales to tailor the offense for him.

“We’ve got to definitely see what his mobility is like,” the offensive coordinator said after practice. “He’s still got a couple of days left to kind of see how it moves around. And that definitely will play a factor in terms of the types of plays that are called. In a perfect world, I’d like to say alright, he gives me the thumbs up, he’s good (to go) and it’s just an open playbook and we could just call our offense.”

Mayfield’s sore ribs seemed to limit him last Sunday in Carolina. Canales said there was some improvement. Mayfield took snaps and threw very short passes in limited participation Friday.

“Definitely with the ribs he did look better,” Canales said.

It’s not just the one injury though.

“Both are a concern. Both have been a concern. We’ve gone into games before (with injuries),” Canales said. “Buffalo, we went into that with just a little bit of a knee deal that happened there. So, it’s definitely in the back of my mind, but at the same time, we’ve got to go. This is the only one we’ve got.

“Baker wouldn’t want it any other way. He’s like, ‘Shoot, just call it, man. Just go for it. I’ll make it happen.’ And he’s handled the situation the right way with that aggressive mentality.”

Just in case, however, backup quarterback Kyle Trask has been a little more involved this week.

“Absolutely. We’ve learned to make sure that he’s prepared. You never know what could happen,” Canales said. “Baker has been a warrior and battled through. So we’ve got to make sure both guys are ready to play.”

Receiver Chris Godwin (knee/rest) was the only player who did not participate Friday. Mayfield’s Eagles counterpart, Jalen Hurts, has been limited by a dislocated finger on his throwing hand, but fully practiced in Philadelphia.

So you’re saying there’s a chance

Despite winning the division and making the playoffs, the Bucs went an entire season without a first-drive touchdown. That’s one, perhaps negative, way to look at it. Canales, however, likes to look on the bright side of things.

“We get another shot,” Canales said when asked about the opening-drive drought.

“So I would love to get out right off the bat, be in our rhythm, mixing our plays like we do, so that we can put that all in for our defense where they can be aggressive and the type of defense that we know they can be.

“They’ve been really carrying us for the last couple of games. So I’d love (to open with a score).”

Tampa Bay came closest Nov. 26 in Indianapolis, getting to the 1-yard line before Mayfield injured his ankle. Two plays later the Bucs settled for a field goal.

Canales on Carroll

Canales reached out to his old boss and mentor, Pete Carroll, after the Seahawks fired the head coach. Canales said he was reaching out as a friend.

“I just sent him a text. Just a whole lot of love. A lot of appreciation. Just gratitude really, so I just wanted to send him some love in that situation,” Canales said. “I want to give him some time to really process it all. ... It happened pretty quickly. So I’m looking forward to having a chance to connect with him and, you know, just kind of see where he’s at and what he’s looking for in the future.”

Canales has confidence the 72-year-old would be fit for another job.

“No doubt in my mind. No doubt. He believes in himself, first and foremost. He puts a lot of trust and a lot of belief in his staff and his players and I think that he could go in and coach anywhere at the highest level still,” Canales said.

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