The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting some reinforcements ahead of their home Wild Card matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The team activated both inside linebacker Lavonte David and running back Giovani Bernard off injured reserve, while releasing wide receiver Justin Watson and cornerback Rashard Robinson to make room on the roster. Tampa Bay is also elevating both tight end Codey McElroy and running back Kenjon Barner from the practice squad.
David was placed on injured reserve on December 23, right before the Bucs' first matchup with the Carolina Panthers in Week 16, causing him to miss the final three weeks of the season. He entered the 21-day designated to return window on January 12 and participated in practice this week leading up to Sunday's game.
Prior to heading to injured reserve, David had amassed the second-most tackles on the team, even with sitting out Weeks Six and Seven due to injury. It means that while the Bucs saw the Eagles in the regular season, David has not. Sunday will be his first matchup with Philadelphia this year and his impact will be much needed against the team who finished the 2021 regular season with a number one ranking in rushing offense. That's led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, whose scramble drills and designed runs have led Philadelphia to a 159.7 rushing yards per game average. They also excel on yards per carry outside the tackles, with Hurts ranking second among players with 50 such rushes, according to NGS, and running back Miles Sanders ranking third. David's sideline-to-sideline expertise could go a long way in helping to lessen the impact of those two particular runners.
The Bucs are also getting a runner of their own back in Bernard. The veteran running back was placed on injured reserve on December 14 after fighting through injury the couple weeks prior. Primarily utilized in third-down situations, Bernard had three receiving touchdowns in the regular season and without the activation of Leonard Fournette from injured reserve, will likely split time with running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn against the Eagles. Running back Ronald Jones has already been ruled out for Sunday's game.
In corresponding moves, the Buccaneers released Watson and Robinson. Watson had been a mainstay on special teams for three seasons for the Bucs before an injury in this year's training camp landed him on the physically unable to perform list.
Robinson was signed by the team in October to help their ailing secondary depth throughout the season but Robinson was placed on injured reserve on November 12.
The team also announced practice squad elevations for McElroy and Barner. With players allotted an additional elevation for the postseason, McElroy will provide reinforcements on offense and special teams while Barner will likely aid in the return game as well as provide depth for the running back unit.