It came down to the wire, but the Bucs are activating two players off injured reserve ahead of their Wild Card matchup. Linebacker Lavonte David and running back Giovani Bernard rejoined the active roster on Saturday. Both players are available to play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. In a surprising twist, Leonard Fournette will remain on IR and miss the Wild Card contest.
The Bucs waived cornerback Rashard Robinson and wideout Justin Watson to open necessary roster spots. Robinson was a good special teamer, but was banged up a few times this season. Watson missed most of the season with a knee injury. In recent weeks, the receiver was struggling through a quad injury.
Analyzing Bucs Moves
Don’t get too excited yet. Just because David and Bernard are active doesn’t mean they’ll play. On Friday, head coach Bruce Arians said David and Fournette would essentially be game time decisions for the Bucs. Obviously, Fournette is now out against the Eagles.
“There are about four game time decisions for the guys that are coming off IR or have been out,” Arians said. “We’ll have to see on the field Sunday before the game. Lavonte will be the most questionable.”
With Ronald Jones already ruled out, Fournette’s loss is a blow to the offense. Especially against an Eagles pass defense that gives so much room underneath to running backs. However, Bernard offers another reliable set of hands, as well as a capable pass blocker. He’ll combine with Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Le’Veon Bell to carry the load.
Meanwhile, David will help a struggling run defense unit and be an asset in coverage against Eagles’ tight end Dallas Goedert. If he plays, of course. David has progressed nicely, but will likely work out on the field before Sunday’s game. That workout will determine his availability.
Only five players remain on the Bucs injured reserve: Fournette, WR Chris Godwin, CB Richard Sherman, DT Pat O’Connor and OG Sadarius Hutcherson. Tampa Bay also made a move on their practice squad on Saturday. The Bucs elevated tight end Codey McElroy and running back Kenjon Barner to the active roster for Sunday.
The Bucs host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at 1pm EST.