The game that everyone is waiting for happens this Sunday at 6:40 p.m. but there is plenty to cover leading up to kickoff. For starters, each team has released its initial injury report and to say there are some notable names on each side would be an understatement.
The Buccaneers saw wide receivers Mike Evans (knee) and Chris Godwin (hip/quad) as well as cornerback Carlton Davis (groin) be limited in Wednesday’s practice. Evans’ knee is something that will likely appear on the injury report for however long the Buccaneers are in the postseason so his limited availability in practices shouldn’t surprise anyone.
However, there was a list of players who did not participate including Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf), Alex Cappa (ankle), and Ronald Jones (quad). We’ve seen JPP get days off all year long so the name to be concerned with here is Ronald Jones. Jones had his quad injury flare up on the plane to Maryland last week ahead of the Bucs’ Wild Card match-up with the Washington Football Team. He wasn’t able to get it feeling right pre-game on Saturday and ended up not playing. Should RoJo be unable to go on Sunday, the Bucs would again turn to Leonard Fournette to carry burden of being the number one back.
His compliment, however, would likely change. Ke’Sahwn Vaughn would spell Fournette throughout the Wild Card game but running back Le’Sean McCoy returned as a full participant to practice on Wednesday and appears on track to play against the Saints.
Speaking of the Saints, they have some injury concerns of their own. Taysom Hill (knee), Latavius Murray (quad), and Patrick Robinson (hamstring) were all held out of practice while Trey Hendrickson (neck), Jared Cook (back), and Terron Armstead (elbow) were all limited. Certainly fans are going to gravitate towards Taysom Hill given the problems he can cause for opposing defenses but the two to really keep an eye on are Hendrickson and Armstead.
Hendrickson has had plenty of success against Donovan Smith throughout his career and Sunday may not be any different. In spite of how well Smith played against Chase Young, Hendrickson causes him fits year after year. If Hendrickson isn’t 100% - or if he can’t go at all - it may impact the Saints’ ability to get after Tom Brady. Meanwhile, with Armstead being one of the better linemen for New Orleans, his injury has the reverse affect potentially allowing the Bucs to get more pressure on Drew Brees than they typically would.
All of these are things to keep an eye on moving forward in the week. You can check out the full injury report below.