The Bucs still have a laundry list of injured players as they prepare to host the Rams in the divisional round. While we saw a couple of players appear at practice on Wednesday, not all of them were active. Bruce Arians gave an update for who was in and who was out.
“Not practicing today if it was a real practice,” Arians started out saying, “Cyril Grayson, Ryan Jensen, Ronald Jones, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Breshad Perriman, Jason Pierre-Paul and Tristan Wirfs. Other than that, we got a good walk-through. It was a good start to the week.”
Yeah … that’s a lot.
We’ll begin with the offense since that list is a little bit longer. Grayson injured his hamstring early against the Panthers in Week 18, causing him to miss the Wild card game last week. Jones hurt his ankle in Week 16 at Carolina and has not been available since. Arians said that RoJo hasn’t been able to cut at all, putting him very much in doubt for this Sunday. Perriman has been dealing with a hip issue, but was able to play in the Wild Card round, recording one catch for five yards.
The big problem is with the offensive line, which has been the healthiest unit all season. Jensen injured his ankle against the Eagles, but miraculously was able to continue on the next drive after going to the medical tent. The more concerning of the two was Wirfs, who sprained his ankle early in the first quarter. He made a brief return to the game for one series, but it was clear that he wasn’t able to go and sat out the rest of the game.
Arians surprisingly did not mention backup offensive tackle Josh Wells, who replaced Wirfs in the game but also sustained a quad injury. There was talk of a contingency plan if Wirfs is unavailable and Wells got hurt – that would consist of sliding right guard Alex Cappa over to tackle and putting Aaron Stinnie in at guard.
The Bucs can also dress backup linemen Nick Leverett for the game. Leverett is a versatile player who can line up at multiple positions. He played a big role coming in at guard during the Bucs win over the Colts this season.
“We’ll be fine,” Arians said. “Nick (Leverett) stepped in and played a really good ball game in Indy. We have different guys who can play multiple positions, so Goody (Harold Goodwin) and Joe (Gilbert) will have them ready, that’s for sure.”
Now let’s go to the defense.
Murphy-Bunting injured his hamstring late in the week before the Wild Card game, forcing him out. Pierre-Paul had missed the last three games of the season with a rotator cuff injury before returning for the playoffs. Pierre-Paul has been dealing with the shoulder issue all season, so this has been the status quo for him.
Thursday’s practicing should be more telling for the Bucs. But not even just for the players that have already been mentioned. Tampa Bay is hoping to get Leonard Fournette back this week as he looks to return from a hamstring injury that put him on IR after the last Saints game. The Bucs are going full speed then, and they’ll find out more about their starting running back.
“It’s still wait and see. Everybody will open up, we’ll be full speed tomorrow, have a better judge then.”