Source: Bucs DE William Gholston has ankle sprain

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston was on crutches and wearing a walking boot after Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers. He was unable to put any weight on his injured left ankle. A source tells ESPN that it is a sprain.

Gholston has been one of the most reliable performers for a unit that had been ravaged by injuries, starting all 12 games this season. In Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers, he was the only original starting defensive lineman in the lineup, with Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald and Robert Ayers all missing the game with injuries. McDonald and Ayers were out for extended periods.

Gholston registered six tackles despite playing just 29 snaps Sunday. His 44 combined tackles and 35 solo tackles this season are both tops among Bucs defensive linemen, as are his eight tackles for loss. He also had a fumble recovery against the Panthers and a sack/strip-fumble against the Chicago Bears.

His greatest asset is his ability to stop the run, with six run stuffs this season. He can also use his 6-foot-6 frame to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage, although he hasn't done much of that this year.

Gholston's status for this weekend's divisional matchup against the New Orleans Saints has not yet been determined, but if he can't go, the team could start Ayers opposite Noah Spence. Spence got the nod at right defensive end Sunday.