On Wednesday, the Bucs announced they have opened the 21-day practice window for 3 players. Linebacker Lavonte David, running back Giovani Bernard and running back Leonard Fournette will all return to practice. Head coach Bruce Arians said earlier this week that he expects Fournette to play on Sunday. David, and perhaps Bernard, will be closer calls depending on how they practice.
ILB Lavonte David and RBs Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard all returned to practice on Wednesday.
The Bucs played without their top three running backs in Week 18, relying on Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Le’Veon Bell. Wide receiver Scotty Miller was their leading rusher with 43 yards. So getting Fournette and perhaps Bernard back for the Wild Card game against the Eagles is huge. Fournette led the team with 812 rushing yards in 14 games this season. He’s also been their top receiving back, with 69 grabs for 454 yards.
David’s potential return will have fans on pins and needles heading into Sunday. The Bucs star linebacker sprained his foot against the Saints, ending his regular season. Arians has noted his progress, but doesn’t know if David will play this week. The Pro Bowler finished with 97 tackles and two sacks this season. He was playing his best ball when the injury occurred. Without him, the Bucs run defense has struggled.
The pending returns leave the Bucs with only three contributing players on injured reserve without a designation. Backup cornerback Richard Sherman was placed on IR on Tuesday, ending his season. Chris Godwin will not return after knee surgery. But one player who could still be back if the Bucs make a deep run is defensive tackle Pat O’Connor. The Bucs special teams ace was coming on as a rotational pass rusher before a knee injury against New Orleans.
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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