The playoffs are back as the Bucs are poised to defend their Super Bowl title. However, this year looks a little different, as Tampa Bay has a myriad of injuries on both sides of the ball.

Running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and inside linebacker Lavonte David (foot) remain on injured reserve. While not technically on IR, outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul has been out since Week 16 with a rotator cuff injury. Fellow outside linebacker Shaq Barrett hurt his MCL in the road game that same week against the Panthers, forcing him out for the last two games of the season.

But Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is hopeful the team will near full strength against the Eagles.

“Leonard looks great,” Arians said. “He’s been working good. He should be back. Shaq and JPP should be both be back. Lavonte, he’ll be the one that’s the closest. But he is starting to move around pretty good. We’ll wait and see. Those guys that have been on IR and have been out, I expect them all to be back. Maybe Lavonte could not.”

Bucs CB Jamel Dean

Bucs CB Jamel Dean – Photo by: USA Today

It wouldn’t be a Bucs game if someone didn’t get injured in the middle of it. Wide receiver Cyril Grayson Jr. left the season finale early with a hamstring injury and did not return. Cornerback Jamel Dean also shortly after with a hamstring injury.

“It’s not quite as bad as he thought,” Arians said of Grayson’s hamstring. “But his availability this week will be in question. I’m still waiting to hear about Jamel Dean. That’s the one that has me concerned from this ball game.”

Of all the players in question, David is arguably the most important one for the Bucs. Their run-stopping efficiency has dropped with David out, especially over the last two weeks where they’ve allowed a combined 260 yards on the ground.

The Bucs will host the Eagles on Sunday at 1pm EST in the Wild Card playoff game. Philadelphia boasts a potent rushing attack that leads the league, averaging 159.7 rushing yards per game.

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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TBChucky
TBChucky(@tbchucky)
8 days ago

Hopefully they all make it back.. Lavonte is the heart of the defense, and a huge upgrade over Minter. Our run defense hasn’t been the same with him out..

Buc76
Buc76(@jjjj)
8 days ago

Moving up to the 2 seed and playing the 7 seed Eagles should be a win whether Lavonte is in there or not. Don’t forget Devin White did not play against Washington last year. I would put Lavone out there thinking about needing him for 4 games. If he’s not ready and playing him will weaken him for the following games, they should hold him out until the divisional.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  Buc76
8 days ago

Vita Vea was on IR much of last season and didn’t return until the NFC Championship game, in which he was instrumental in the Bucs beating the Packers, and then steamrollered the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

If a player has to miss a playoff game, it’s best if it’s the first round or two of the playoffs if you have a team capable of winning at least one or two playoff games.

Buc76
Buc76(@jjjj)
8 days ago

and this is Brady’s turn to get revenge for that Super Bowl he lost to the Eagles

B T
B T(@btk-tpa)
8 days ago

This game is not he cakewalk people think. With David and Barrett out we lose lots of speed on the outside and run coverage. You can see in the Carolina game how much success they had on screens, outside runs and simple passes across the middle-exactly what the Eagles will do. Plus Hurts is a great running QB so that should be a concern.

Spitfire
Spitfire(@spitfire)
Reply to  B T
8 days ago

I don’t think anyone is thinking any game will be a cakewalk with the injuries we have had. Philly is just the team of choice to play if you had to pick. We beat them earlier this year but it wasn’t a cakewalk then either. They are a team that has gotten better as the year went on. That being said we should still win the game, but no playoff game is a cakewalk, just like the Washington game last year. I just hope our guys and coaches turn things up now that the path is clear and the end… Read more »

pinkstob
pinkstob(@pinkstob)
Reply to  B T
8 days ago

I agree about the outside run D and screens being the culprits over the last few weeks. I actually think a healthy JPP and Barrett are more vital to getting that fixed than a healthy David and Barrett. They both set the edge on a consistent basis and that’s where the Eagles will be sending the ball if those two guys aren’t at 100%.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  B T
8 days ago

Nobody is calling this a cakewalk. It’s the playoffs. Only idiots treat playoff games as gimmes, easy outs, or cakewalks.

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
8 days ago

Levonte is really needed in this D big time. Hoping Shaq will be 100%. Dean gets hurt every single game this year it seems. Comes back gets hurt. Or he is sick or something. Has the guy finished a game? Crazy. Grayson hamstring was a real nut punch too. Everyone thought suggesting Bucs may need new strength and conditioning was stupid but amount Ham strings they have had this year is bizarre.

drdneast
drdneast(@drdneast)
Reply to  fredster
8 days ago

Strenght and conditioning have nothing to do with hamstring injuries. You can’t be in better shape by running more or differently to prevent them. Those are more prevalent due to the lack of hydration or streching. Since Greyson injured his at the beginning of the game I can only guess he didn’t stretch out long enough or properly.

PewterHeart
PewterHeart(@allanh1)
7 days ago

Everyone’s fine, coach and staff wanted to rest the guys and keep teams in the dark.