Tampa Bay‘s injury situation among key defensive starters crystalized in a promising way on Friday amid the latest injury report before Sunday’s division tilt with Atlanta.
Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead, who has been out since August due to a hamstring injury, participated fully in practice a second-consecutive day. He will play against the Falcons, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians confirmed on Friday, per Buccaneers.com’s Carmen Vitali. Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, who has a hand injury, didn’t participate in practice for the second time since Wednesday. Pierre-Paul will also go against Atlanta despite the hand injury, Arians said, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
Arians gave additional good news to go along with the injury report. He told the media that injured cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting most likely won’t require surgery. Murphy-Bunting dislocated his elbow in the season opener against Dallas on Sept. 9.
“It’s going to be anybody’s guess as far as how long, but there’s not going to be any surgery involved at all,” Arians said via the Tampa Bay Times. “We hope to get him back sometime.”
The injury report didn’t include Murphy-Bunting as the Bucs placed him on the reserve/injured list. Tampa also recently placed long snapper Zach Triner on the reserve/injured list due to torn tendon in his hand per Pro Football Talk.
Carlton Davis Potentially Out vs. Falcons
Friday’s injury report didn’t have all good news for the Bucs. Cornerback Carlton Davis III became questionable for Sunday’s game after appearing on report with a hamstring injury. He had limited participation in practice.
Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett notably practiced Wednesday through Friday with full participation despite a back injury. Ndamukong Suh, Steve McLendon, and Rob Gronkowski each missed one practice in the past two days for a veteran player’s day off.
Antonio Brown, listed with a knee injury, didn’t participate in practice on Friday but practiced on Wednesday and Thursday. He injured his knee in the playoffs last season and had it scoped in the spring. It didn’t slow him down against the Cowboys in Week 1 with five receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Whitehead: ‘It’s Not Even Like I Missed It’
The last of the Bucs’ 22 returning starters will take the field on Sunday against the Falcons as Whitehead will make his 2021 season debut.
He missed all of the preseason games due to his hamstring injury and had a rough start to training camp with being on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The former Pittsburgh University standout also injured his shoulder in the playoffs last season and had surgery in the offseason.
“Just wanted to be out there with the guys. And then came back,” Whitehead said via the Tampa Bay Times. “Just dealing with a little shoulder (injury) from last year, and then I had pulled my hamstring just a couple of days into practice, so it was hard at first being out there just watching, but I learned a lot from the sideline and got to do extra film time and take care of my body. I’m back, and all of that stuff is behind me, so it’s not even like I missed it. Just looking forward to the next games.”