TAMPA, Fla. — Hoping to spark one of the NFL’s least productive offenses, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are turning back to Josh McCown at quarterback.

The 12th-year pro started the first three games of the season but has missed the past five after injuring the thumb on his throwing hand.

McCown’s return Sunday against Atlanta comes with the Bucs (1-7) riding a four-game losing streak. He was hurt during the opening half of a 56-14 to the Falcons on Sept. 18.

Coach Lovie Smith hinted at a change on Monday, then Glennon confirmed the change on his radio show. The Bucs are ranked 31st in total offense and are 26th in scoring.


MALLETT TO START AGAINST BROWNS: In Houston, Ryan Mallett will be the quarterback for the Houston Texans when they play the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 16.

Coach Bill O’Brien made the announcement Wednesday as the Texans prepare to take time off during their bye week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick started the first nine games for the Texans but struggled to move the offense as the team fell to 4-5. Mallett joined the Texans after three seasons backing up Tom Brady in New England. He didn’t take a single snap in two of his three seasons with the Patriots.


JOHNSON EXPECTED BACK: In Allen Park, Mich., Calvin Johnson is expected to return this week as the Detroit Lions enter a critical stretch of the season.

Johnson said Wednesday he is back to his normal practice routine and will play Sunday when Detroit (6-2) hosts the Miami Dolphins (5-3) at Ford Field.

The star wide receiver has missed the past three games with an ankle injury. Detroit went 3-0 in his absence and holds a one-game lead over Green Bay (5-3) in the NFC North as it prepares for three straight games against teams with winning records.


ROMO SITS OUT PRACTICE: In London, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo sat out the team’s first practice in London on Wednesday because of his injured back.

Romo, who missed last Sunday’s 28-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals with his third back injury in the last 18 months, made the trip to England but stayed at the hotel while the rest of his teammates practiced at Allianz Park.

Brandon Weeden took the snaps during practice Wednesday.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, however, remained optimistic that Romo would be ready for Sunday.

Around the league

Bills receiver Sammy Watkins will be ready to play against Kansas City this weekend despite hurting his groin in practice, a person familiar with the diagnosis told The Associated Press. ...Running back Marcus Lattimore informed the San Francisco 49ers he will retire, two years after blowing out his right knee at South Carolina and working tirelessly to try to come back. ... Linebacker Lance Briggs acknowledged his 12-year run with the Bears will likely end this season. ... The Giants acquired cornerback Chykie Brown on waivers from the Baltimore Ravens and placed cornerback Prince Amukamara on injured reserve with a torn biceps. Amukamara was injured Monday night in a loss to Indianapolis. ... Tuscaloosa police arrested former Alabama and NFL fullback Le’Ron McClain on a synthetic marijuana trafficking charge.