The Bucs are nearing complete health as a roster, but the status of two players remains in doubt. On Wednesday, Bruce Arians revealed that the Bucs may be without backup running back Ronald Jones and emerging wide receiver Cyril Grayson this Sunday. Jones is the team’s second-leading rusher, while Grayson had come alive in recent weeks. Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson’s status is also in question.
“The only guys that wouldn’t have practiced today were Cyril Grayson, Ronald Jones and Anthony Nelson,” Arians said. “I think Cyril and ‘RoJo’ are doubtful. Anthony Nelson – I’ve got my fingers crossed because he’s been playing really, really [well].”
It’s been a miserable year for Jones, who has struggled to produce even when healthy. Undone by his struggles in the passing game, Jones finished with just 428 rushing yards in the regular season. Jones’ loss will be muted significantly due to the return of Leonard Fournette and probably Giovani Bernard. Even Ke’Shawn Vaughn appeared to be a more complete player in recent weeks.
Bucs WR Cyril Grayson – Photo by: USA Today
You probably couldn’t have sold Bucs fans on the idea that Grayson would be a greater loss than Jones this season. But here we are. The inexperienced wide receiver burst onto the scene in Weeks 16 and 17, posting back-to-back 81-yard games. Grayson’s 33-yard game-winning touchdown against the Jets was one of the highlights of the season.
The former LSU track star seemed to be seizing control of the new WR2 role for the Bucs, but a hamstring injury against the Panthers derailed those hopes. On Monday, Arians said Grayson’s injury wasn’t as significant as the receiver initially thought. If the Bucs make a little run, hopefully he can return later in the playoffs.
As for Nelson, he’s coming off a career-high five sacks this season. The backup edge rusher has sacks in three straight games to end the season, showing great improvement this year. The return of Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul will drop Nelson’s snaps this week. But if he’s healthy, it’ll allow the Bucs to play 4-5 deep at outside linebacker.
“He’s got an ankle, but we’ll see how it is,” Arians said. “We’ll see how it is this week with rest.”
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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