The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't practice on Tuesday, but if they had Scotty Miller and Sean Murphy-Bunting would have been on the field.
As the Buccaneers begin their bye, the players were given a six consecutive days off, beginning on Tuesday. However, even an idle day produced good news as the team designated Miller and Murphy-Bunting, both currently on injured reserve, as "returned to practice." That opens a 21-day window in which both players can practice with the team without counting against the 53-man roster. It also means it is possible that both will be back on the active roster in time for the Bucs' next game, at Washington on November 14.
The Buccaneers now have up to three weeks to make a decision on the status of both Miller and Murphy-Bunting for the remainder of the regular season, and they could choose to activate either or both at any point in that time span. The deadline would be November 21, which means they could return in Week 10 against Washington, Week 11 against the Giants or Week 12 against Indianapolis. If either or both are not activated by that deadline, they would revert to injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
Both Miller and Murphy-Bunting are potential reinforcements at positions that are dealing with significant injury concerns. Murphy-Bunting has been out since sustaining an elbow injury in the Week One win over Dallas, and he was joined on injured reserve by fellow starting cornerback Carlton Davis in Week Five. Richard Sherman and Dee Delaney, two cornerbacks who stepped into larger roles because of those injuries, have also missed games recently due to injury.
Meanwhile, the Bucs' talented receiving corps is dealing with the absence of Antonio Brown, who has missed two games with an ankle injury and has an uncertain prognosis for his return to the lineup. When Brown missed Tampa Bay's Week Three game in Los Angeles while on the COVID-19 list, it was Miller who saw the biggest increase in playing time, though Tyler Johnson has since taken on a much bigger role.
A second-round draft pick out of Central Michigan in 2019, Murphy-Bunting has played in 33 games with 24 starts, including this year's season-opener. Before his injury he was filling a role that had him starting games in base packages on the outside and then moving into the slot in the nickel defense. Last year, he recorded 70 tackles and one interception in the regular season and then added three more picks in the playoffs.
Scotty Miller was another member of the Bucs' 2019 draft class, coming in as a sixth-round pick out of Bowling Green. He has played in 29 games with seven starts and has recorded 48 receptions for 712 yards and four touchdowns. Last season he caught 33 passes for 501 yards and three scores, averaging 15.2 yards per grab. Perhaps the Bucs' fastest pass-catcher, he turned in one of the most important plays of the team's postseason run to the championship in 2020 with a 39-yard touchdown catch in the final seconds of the first half of the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay.