Buccaneers Make Final Decision on Jordan Whitehead Versus Cowboys

Jordan Whitehead

Getty Jordan Whitehead won't suit up for the Buccaneers opener versus Dallas.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians confirmed on Tuesday that starting safety Jordan Whitehead will sit out the opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

Evan Closky of WTSP reported the news on Tuesday that the fourth-year veteran will miss Thursday’s kick-off of the 2021 NFL season. The former University of Pittsburgh standout didn’t practice for most of training camp and didn’t play in the preseason.

Whitehead suffered a shoulder injury in the playoffs last season and had surgery during the offseason. He missed the Bucs’ final 2020 championship celebrations the week before training camp due going on the reserve/COVID-19 list. His return to practice at training camp ended quickly as the team sidelined him with an undisclosed injury on Aug. 10. Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith reported Whitehead’s injury as a hamstring injury.

The veteran safety also appeared on the first injury report of the regular season as a non-participant on Monday Per Pewter Report.

That’s all despite Arians comments in late August alluding to Whitehead’s return for the season.

“Yeah, Jordan’s getting really, really close. I would anticipate him to be ready,” Arians said in a press conference on Aug. 22.

Backup safety Mike Edwards is expected to get the nod according to Sports Illustrated’s All Bucs. Edwards played in 16 games last season and tallied two interceptions, five pass deflections, a forced fumble, and 11 tackles.

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Antonio Brown, Giovani Bernard Appear on First Injury Report

Monday’s injury report included star wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) and running back Giovani Bernard (ankle), but both fully participated in practice.

Arians said Bernard went “full-speed” in practice on Sunday per All Bucs after not practicing late last week. Bernard suffered a “high-ankle sprain” per NBC Sports EDGE. The Bucs signed Bernard as a pass-catching back for quarterback Tom Brady in the offseason. Bernard caught 47 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns with the Bengals in 2020.

Brown had a knee injury in the playoffs last season and had an operation in the spring, and he practiced for most of training camp. He also played in the two preseason games where the Bucs fielded the starters and top players.

The four-time All-Pro became a favorite target of Brady’s last season after joining the team mid season. Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in 2020. He re-signed with the Bucs for 2021 on a  one-year deal.

Ndamukong Suh Returns

The Bucs will get one starter back for the kickoff game against Dallas with defensive end Ndamukong Suh coming off the reverse/COVID-19 list per Smith.

Suh missed the final preseason game at Houston due to going on the list on Aug. 28. He will make his 175th career start and 33rd for the Bucs.

A 12-year veteran, Suh gives the Bucs another dangerous pass rusher up front as Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is set to make his return from a season-ending injury last season. Suh had 44 tackles, six sacks, one forced fumble and two pass deflections in 2020.

Tampa also waived rookie kicker Jose Borregales in the process for Suh’s spot on the 53-man roster per Smith.

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