It's been two and a half weeks since linebacker Lavonte David has seen the field for the Bucs. That could change Sunday as he is slated to play against the Panthers, barring any setbacks, according to Head Coach Dirk Koetter.
"Getting Lavonte back this week will also be a big plus I think," Koetter said following practice. Koetter was addressing the defensive effort as a whole and how a lot of guys have been contributing to bringing more pressure. The Bucs are relatively healthy up front and getting David back will be good underneath but it's the Bucs' secondary that has been hit the hardest with injury this week. The unit could get safety Justin Evans back this week as well, as he's listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. Unfortunately, both cornerbacks Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart have been ruled out for the Bucs come Sunday, meaning the role Evans is stepping into is a little more unclear. Stewart has been out with a foot injury but Davis is battling a knee injury suffered in last Sunday's game.
"Whoever you got up, that's who you've got that day," Koetter said about the shuffling of the defense for this game and this season, in general. "We've had a lot of moving parts on defense this year when you look at the guys that have been out of the lineup. I think we've had as many as six starters out in a game. That gives other guys opportunities but at the same time, that doesn't promote continuity. One thing I do know is that whoever is up is going to give us everything they've got, because they have all year."
Another player ruled out was wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has been battling a thumb injury. Coach Koetter admitted that he wasn't sure of Jackson's status beyond this week but he would not be able to go for this Sunday's game. Jackson had been practicing in a limited capacity all week.
Jackson is part of one of the deepest units on the team. His unavailability could theoretically mean opportunities for other receivers further down the depth chart to see more action on Sunday.
"It's hard to go into a game with less than five wideouts," Koetter said. "Anybody past Mike [Evans], Chris [Godwin] and Hump [Adam Humphries] who is up is going to be in the mix."
For the Panthers, it was just wide receiver Devin Funchess that is listed as questionable. Kicker Graham Gano was added to the injury report on Friday with a left knee injury but he practiced fully.
See below for the full injury report.
CB Carlton Davis (knee) – Did Not Participate – Out
WR DeSean Jackson (thumb) – Limited Participation – Out
CB M.J. Stewart (foot) – Did Not Participate – Out
T Demar Dotson (knee/shoulder) – Did Not Participate - Doubtful
LB Lavonte David (knee) – Full Participation – Questionable
S Justin Evans (toe) – Full Participation – Questionable
CB Brent Grimes (knee) – Did Not Participate – Questionable
DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches (knee/ankle) – Did Not Participate – Questionable
RB Peyton Barber (ankle/shoulder) – Full Participation
C Ryan Jensen (hamstring) – Full Participation
S Isaiah Johnson (illness) – Full Participation
DT Gerald McCoy (ankle/shoulder) – Full Participation
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee/shoulder/hand) – Full Participation
LS Garrison Sanborn (knee) – Full Participation
T Leonard Wester (knee) – Full Participation
WR Devin Funchess (back/not injury related) – Full Participation – Questionable
S Mike Adams (not injury related) – Did Not Participate
K Graham Gano (left knee) – Full Participation
CB Donte Jackson (quad) – Full Participation
S Colin Jones (not injury related) – Full Participation
C Ryan Kalil (not injury related) – Full Participation
TE Chris Manhertz (ankle) – Full Participation
QB Cam Newton (right shoulder) – Full Participation
TE Greg Olsen (foot) – Full Participation
DE Julius Peppers (not injury related) – Limited Participation
S Eric Reid (shoulder) – Full Participation
WR Curtis Samuel (hamstring) – Full Participation
DT Kawann Short (calf) – Full Participation
WR Torrey Smith (knee) – Full Participation