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Bucs Activate Giovani Bernard, Downgrade Leonard Fournette

The Buccaneers activated RB Giovani Bernard from injured reserve on Saturday while also downgrading RB Leonard Fournette to out for Sunday's game…In addition, ILB J.J. Russell was waived and ILB Ulysees Gilbert was elevated from the practice squad


On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers activated 10th-year veteran running back Giovani Bernard from injured reserve. To make room on the 53-man roster, the Buccaneers waived rookie inside linebacker J.J. Russell.

The Buccaneers also elevated inside linebacker Ulysees Gilbert from the practice squad, making him eligible to play in Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. In addition, running back Leonard Fournette was downgraded on the injury report to out and he will not travel with the team to Cleveland.

Bernard, who suffered an ankle injury in a Week Two win at New Orleans, was placed on injured reserve on September 21 and subsequently missed Tampa Bay's next eight games. He was designated to return from I.R. on Monday, opening up a 21-day window in which the team could activate him at any time.

Bernard's activation is a timely move for the Buccaneers, who will be without Fournette for the first time this season. Fournette suffered a hip pointer in the Week 10 win over Seattle in Munich and was limited in practice throughout this week before originally being listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report. Bernard gives the Bucs a third option in the backfield along with rookie Rachaad White and third-year man Ke'Shawn Vaughn.

Bernard first joined the Buccaneers as a free agent in the spring of 2021 and he appeared in 12 games, logging eight carries for 58 yards. One of the most productive pass-catching backs of the past decade, Bernard also hauled in 23 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns. Prior to getting hurt this year, he had played exclusively on special teams in the first two games.

Bernard played his first eight NFL seasons in Cincinnati, after being selected with the 37th overall pick in the 2013 draft. He has played 129 games with 39 starts and has rushed 929 times for 3,755 yards and 22 touchdowns, adding 365 receptions for 2,990 yards and 14 more scores.

Gilbert was signed to the Buccaneers' practice squad on October 11. He was elevated for the Week 10 game against Seattle in Munich and he played a team-high 15 special teams snaps, recording one assisted tackle. Originally a sixth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019, Gilbert has played in 29 regular-season games and has recorded 26 tackles.

Russell signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in May. He started the season on the practice squad, was elevated to play in Week Eight against Baltimore and was then promoted to the 53-man roster on November 2. He has played in two games on special teams.

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