There are only two Tampa Bay Buccaneers players whose chances to play on Sunday at Carolina are in doubt, and they are both starting defensive linemen. And that actually represents good news.
Defensive end Vinny Curry and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, both of whom have missed the last two games with calf and ankle injuries, respectively, were on the practice field on Friday as full participants. As such, both are considered questionable for the Buccaneers' Week Nine game against the Panthers in Charlotte. A third D-line starter, end Jason Pierre-Paul, had been held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday but was a full participant on Friday and has been cleared to play.
Pierre-Paul is the Buccaneers' sack leader, with 8.0, and he has an active streak of six consecutive games with at least one sack, matching a franchise record. Head Coach Dirk Koetter knows the veteran end can still be productive on Sunday without logging much practice time during the week.
"Everybody's got a track record, and over time you learn what that is," said Koetter. "Some guys have proven over the course of their career that they can ease into the beginning of a week and be fine on game day. Until a guy gets a track record, it's hard to say. We don't look at every guy the same in that respect."
While Curry and McCoy could be game-day decisions, the other seven players who appeared on Tampa Bay's injury report this week are all either definitely in or definitely out. The three players who have already been ruled out for Sunday's game are running back Ronald Jones, guard Evan Smith and cornerback M.J. Stewart. With Jones out due to a hamstring injury, fellow rookie Shaun Wilson will be active again after sitting out the last four contests.
The Panthers had relatively few injury issues this week. Veteran wide receiver Torrey Smith will miss a second straight week due to a knee injury, but rookie first-round pick D.J. Moore has stepped up in his absence. Quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen may be dealing with shoulder and foot issues, respectively, but neither will miss Sunday's game.
View photos from the Buccaneers' practice Thursday at AdventHealth Training Center.
See below for the full injury report:
RB Ronald Jones (hamstring) – Did Not Participate - Out
G Evan Smith (hip) – Did Not Participate - Out
CB M.J. Stewart (foot) – Did Not Participate - Out
DE Vinny Curry (ankle) – Full Participation - Questionable
DT Gerald McCoy (calf) – Full Participation - Questionable
RB Peyton Barber (ankle) – Full Participation
T Demar Dotson (knee) – Full Participation
WR Mike Evans (knee) – Full Participation
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (ribs/foot) – Full Participation
WR Torrey Smith (knee) – Did Not Participate – Out
S Mike Adams (not injury related) – Full Participation
S Rashaan Gaulden (ankle) – Full Participation
QB Cam Newton (shoulder) – Full Participation
TE Greg Olsen (foot) – Full Participation
DE Julius Peppers (not injury related) – Limited Participation
LB Andre Smith (hamstring) – Full Participation