Bucs Make Big Change Before Browns Game

Todd Bowles

Getty Todd Bowles and the Bucs will need to make adjustments on Sunday.

Despite coming off of a bye week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn’t return to the field at full strength against the Cleveland Browns.

Bucs running back Leonard Fournette will sit out on Sunday, November 27, due to hip injury. The Bucs meanwhile activated running back Giovani Bernard from injured reserve on November 26 after he missed eight games due to an ankle injury.

Fournette appeared as doubtful on the final injury report amid three days of limited participation in practice. He has 462 yards rushing and three touchdowns plus 43 receptions for 315 yards and three touchdowns this season.

Bernard only played special teams in his first two games, which included a kick return for 14 yards. Known as a pass catcher, Bernard had 23 catches for 123 yards and three touchdowns last season. He also averaged 7.3 yards per carry amid his limited attempts.

Both Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn will play behind rookie Rachaad White, who had a breakout game in Week 10. White rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries in the Bucs’ 21-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Munich, Germany.

With Bernard moving up to the 53-man roster, the Bucs waived linebacker J.J. Russell. The Bucs also moved linebacker Ulysses Gilbert up from the practice squad in place of Russell.

Running the ball could play a major role in Sunday’s game as rain fell in the morning at Cleveland. In addition, the Bucs could attack the Browns defense, which allows 135.1 rushing yards per contest.

Besides Fournette, the Bucs also won’t play guard Luke Goedeke (foot) and wide receiver Russell Gage (hamstring).

Vita Vea Remains Questionable

Bucs nose tackle Vita Vea returned to practice on November 25 after two missed practices amid a foot injury, but the team listed him as questionable for Sunday’s game.

The Bucs plan to have Vea test his foot on Sunday to make a final decision before the game. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles confirmed the plan on November 25.

“He’s getting better and better,” Bowles told reporters. “Hopefully with a few more days rest, we will look for him to work out Sunday [before the game] and see what he can do.”

Vea’s foot injury ocurred during the bye week. He “just woke up one day with soreness in his foot” according to FOX Sports’ Greg Auman. Vea “still could recover enough to play Sunday”, Auman added.

Tampa Bay losing Vea could hinder the run defense against a quality running team in Cleveland. Vea has 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and 26 tackles this season. The Browns rank fifth in rushing yards, 150.9 per game, with a strong duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Mike Evans Chases Elite Company Again

With Gage out again, Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans could easily garner more targets the passing game and add to his storied career.

Once Evans gains 28 yards receiving, he will become the 6th player ever with 10,000 yards and 75 touchdown catches in the first nine seasons of his career, per ESPN’s Field Yates. Evans will join the likes of Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, and Marvin Harrison on that list, Yates wrote.

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