The injury report for the Buccaneers seems to get longer by the day, but head coach Bruce Arians told the media on Wednesday that Shaquil Barrett, Leonard Fournette, and Lavonte David were all trending in the right direction and should be ready to go for the first playoff game in a little over a week. That first round bye would have come in really handy, but the Bucs appear on track to get some of their star players and key contributors back on time to defend their title.
There was, however, an interesting note on the injury report and that was the listing of soon-to-be-but-not-quite-yet-former wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown, who is still on the team’s official roster, was listed as “Did Not Participate” for personal reasons. That personal reason, of course, was his very public exit from the team in the third quarter last Sunday against the New York Jets. Arians reiterated that Brown is no longer part of the team but there hasn’t been an official move yet because the front office is figuring out their options as far as what they can do about him.
The obvious choice is to release him. However, releasing him would place Brown on waivers and allow a contending team to pick him up. You may think that no team would be willing to take that risk given the latest in a long list of on and off-field issues Brown has had, but a contender like the Green Bay Packers or Arizona Cardinals may be willing to risk having Brown around for a month in the pursuit of a championship in spite of any media or PR backlash they may face. Finding a way to suspend him for conduct detrimental or something along those lines allow the Bucs to essentially block him from any team willing to take on the troubled receiver.
Other notable players on the list were the aforementioned Fournette (hamstring), Brown (personal), and Barrett (knee) as well as Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), Ronald Jones (ankle), Ryan Jensen (shoulder), Rashard Robinson (groin), and Justin Watson (quadriceps) all did not participate in practice. Jaelon Darden (illness), Mike Evans (hamstring), and Richard Sherman (achilles) were all limited. Mike Edwards (elbow), Sean Murphy-Bunting (illness), Bradley Pinion (hip), Grant Stuard (elbow), and Ke’Sahwn Vaughn (ribs) were all full participants.
For the Carolina Panthers, they were without wide receiver Robby Anderson (quadriceps), safety Sean Chandler (groin), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (groin), defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (illness) and wide receiver Shi Smith (illness) while cornerback C.J. Henderson (knee) was a limited participant.
The Bucs still have something to play for Sunday as they try to work their way up to the number two seed. In order to do so, they need a win and some help from the San Francisco 49ers.
You can view the entire injury report below;