The No. 2-seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers are anticipating a much healthier starting lineup in the Wild Card round of the playoffs than they've had in weeks past.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians revealed on Monday that the team expects running back Leonard Fournette as well as outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to play this Sunday against the No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles.
"Leonard looks great, he's been working good. He should be back," Arians said on Monday. "Shaq and JPP should both be back.
Fournette, still on the injured reserve while recovering from a Week 15 hamstring injury, is eligible to be activated from the reserve this week. Tampa Bay is likely to open his 21-day practice window in the coming days.
Barrett, who sprained his MCL and ACL against the Carolina Panthers in Week 16, should return to practice this week as well according to Arians, although Barrett would need to be activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list in order to do so. Barrett was placed on the COVID-19 list last Friday.
Pierre-Paul, who has dealt with a nagging shoulder injury all season long, has missed Tampa Bay's last three games as well.
In addition, the statuses of inside linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Jamel Dean will be monitored throughout the week. David went on the injured reserve after Week 15 with a sprained ankle, while Dean, who has dealt with numerous minor injuries throughout the year, exited Week 18's matchup against Carolina with a hamstring injury.
"Lavonte, he'll be the one that's the closest but he is starting to move around pretty good, so we'll wait and see. I'm still waiting to hear about Jamel Dean, that's the one that's got me concerned for this ball game," Arians said. "But those guys that are on IR and that had been out, I expect all [of them] to be back, maybe Lavonte could not."
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