The good news is that only two Bucs were ruled out for the team’s Wild Card game against Philadelphia. RB Ronald Jones and WR Cyril Grayson will not be available on Sunday. Jones sprained his ankle in Week 17, while Grayson pulled a hamstring in the season finale. But the bad news is that more Bucs remain in question for Sunday than originally expected.
“There’s about four game time decisions,” Arians said. “The guys that are coming off IR or have been out that we’ll have to see on the field Sunday before the game.”
Who are those four players? Based on what we can deduce from Arians next comment, it sounds like linebacker Lavonte David and Leonard Fournette are two of them. David has been expected to be a game time decision, while Fournette’s status is a bit of a surprise. Earlier in the week, Arians said Fournette “looked great” and that he “should be back” for Sunday.
“I feel pretty good about Shaq [Barrett] and JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] (playing on Sunday),” Arians said. “Lavonte will be the most questionable, along with Lenny (Fournette). [Lavonte] did a little bit today. So it’s just wait and see how sore he gets tomorrow. And see how he feels Sunday.”
Of course, Arians could just be playing it cautious. The safe bet is still on Fournette to play this Sunday, unless there has been a setback. Arians made it clear that if Fournette is cleared, he’ll shoulder most of the workload.
“If he’s cleared, he’s playing as much as he can,” Arians said. “We’ll still sub, but he’ll carry most of the load.”
Fellow running back Giovani Bernard could be back as well, figuring in as the third game-time decision.
“Gio is pretty close too,” Arians said. “So we’ll be working him out. We should have three or four, maybe four backs dressed and ready to roll.”
Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson figures to be the fourth game time decision. The third-year pass rusher hurt his ankle against the Panthers last week. Meanwhile, there seems to be no lingering concerns with wide receiver Breshad Perriman or center Ryan Jensen, per Arians. Both players are ready to go for Sunday.