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The Buccaneers (13-4) appear to be getting healthier just in time for the playoffs, with a few big names returning to practice Wednesday.
Running backs Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard, edge rusher Shaquill Barrett and cornerback Jamel Dean all practiced in a limited capacity, per The Athletic’s Greg Auman. Linebacker Lavonte David, edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, running back Ronald Jones II and receiver Cyril Grayson, however, were not present.
Barrett, who’s been out since Week 16 with a sprained ACL and MCL, was wearing a brace on his right knee. Barrett leads the Buccaneers with 10.0 sacks and three forced fumbles.
The defending Super Bowl champions have been decimated all-year long by injuries, with the bulk coming in the final weeks of the season. Receiver Chris Godwin was the first domino to fall, tearing his ACL in the 9-0 Week 15 loss to the Saints. Pierre-Paul has been out with a torn rotator cuff, while David has been out with a foot injury.
Barrett, Pierre-Paul and David have perhaps been the most impactful injuries, with Tampa Bay’s stout run defense showing cracks in the armor in recent weeks. In Week 17 against the Jets and Week 18 against the Panthers, the Buccaneers allowed 260 rushing yards combined.
The absence of that trio played a role, as well as linebacker Devin White’s inability to get off blocks. Heralded as a tackling machine, White’s recorded just five tackles in the last two games. The Eagles (9-8) and the league’s No. 1 rushing offense (159.7 yards per game) come to town for a NFC Wild Card matchup Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on FOX.
Head coach Bruce Arians seemed optimistic that Barrett and Pierre-Paul would be out there, but is taking a wait and see approach with David.
“It’s a huge addition if we can get him (David) back out there,” Arians said after practice Wednesday.
One Buccaneer we know won’t be playing Sunday, is veteran defensive back Richard Sherman. Sherman was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with an Achilles injury. Because it’s his second stint on IR, Sherman will not return this season. Sherman appeared in just five games in his lone season in Tampa Bay.
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