TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David, who was listed as limited at practice on Wednesday because of an ankle injury, was downgraded and did not practice Thursday, leaving his status up the air for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.
The Bucs will already be without rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander, who is suspended for the final four games of the regular season. If David cannot play, Tampa Bay will be without its top two tacklers against a Saints team that scored 38 points against Carolina last weekend.
If David can't play, that will test the Bucs' depth at linebacker. Starting strongside linebacker Danny Lansanah could move to David's spot on the weakside and Bruce Carter, who is returning from a concussion, can play the middle.
Tampa Bay had Orie Lemon at strongside linebacker on Wednesday and he was also getting some work in the middle. None of the other linebackers on the roster has taken a defensive snap this season.
Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith has not ruled David out for Sunday.
"I'm going to wait until Sunday to kind of see who plays," Smith said. "And if a guy is practicing on a limited basis, I'm still pretty pumped up about it. Unless someone has been ruled out, which no one has been, I'm pretty excited about this Sunday and can't wait to get there."
Last week, the Bucs had to play without its top two sack leaders, as defensive end Jacquies Smith (hamstring) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand) were out against Atlanta. Smith is likely to miss Sunday's game, but McCoy said he wants to play.
"It's just day to day," he said. "We'll see what happens. I want to play. If they allow me to play, I'll be out there."