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Arians: Buccaneers Hopeful Winfield Jr. Will Play in Week 7

Bruce Arians is optimistic that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. will clear concussion protocol this week.

Several members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting secondary will remain sidelined in Week 7 and beyond, but the team is optimistic that at least one contributor will return against the Chicago Bears next Sunday: That being second-year safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

Winfield Jr. missed Thursday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles as well as last Sunday's matchup with the Miami Dolphins with a concussion, which he suffered against the New England Patriots in Week 4. Winfield Jr. has yet to clear the NFL's concussion protocol, but head coach Bruce Arians believes that Winfield Jr. should make his way back to full participation this week.

"Hopefully we'll have Antoine back, for sure," Arians said on Friday. "He was pretty close before we left. Get him out of the protocol hopefully. At that point, I don't know who else who might be back. It's still going to be a crapshoot that way."

Winfield Jr. was one of three starters (that aren't on injured reserve) who were inactive against the Eagles, joined by linebacker Lavonte David and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

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In four games this season, Winfield Jr. has made his fair share of plays, tallying 25 tackles, an interception, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble. The safety unit has solid depth and has handled injuries far better than the cornerback spot, but there is no doubt that Winfield Jr.'s availability makes the backend of Tampa Bay's defense far stronger and more likely to create a turnover.

Cornerbacks Carlton Davis III, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Richard Sherman won't suit up against the Bears, as the former two are on injured reserve while the latter is expected to miss a small handful of games with a hamstring injury. However, Winfield Jr.'s potential return would be welcomed warmly as he is one of Tampa Bay's top defensive playmakers.

Chicago will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers on Oct. 24.

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