The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play their regular-season finale on Sunday without two of their top defensive playmakers and another key reserve.
On Friday, the Buccaneers placed inside linebacker Devin White, outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett and defensive lineman Steve McLendon on the reserve/COVID-19 list. They will miss Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons, in which Tampa Bay will be seeking to secure the top Wild Card spot in the NFC playoffs with a win.
The new reserve list category was created for a player who either tests positive for COVID-19 or who has been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons. If a player falls into either of these categories, his club is required to immediately place the player on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Per agreed upon NFL-NFLPA policy, clubs are not permitted to comment on player's medical status other than referring to roster status. Clubs may not disclose whether player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID-19.
White and Barrett are two of the Buccaneers' three players who have eight-plus sacks this season, along with outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. The Bucs and the Steelers are the only two teams in the NFL with three players with at least eight sacks. McLendon, who came over in an October trade with the New York Jets, has since provided valuable depth on the interior line.
White is the Buccaneers' leading tackler with 140 stops, which is tied for third in the NFL. He also has 15 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, four passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He's the only player in the NFL with at least 100 tackles and nine sacks.
Barrett has recorded 57 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 11 tackles for loss 16 quarterback hits, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles. According to NFL stat service Radar360, Barrett is tied for fourth in the NFL with 40 quarterback pressures.
McLendon has played in all nine games since the trade and has contributed 17 tackles and two tackles for loss, primarily serving as the backup to nose tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
Both White and Barrett started each of the Buccaneers' first 15 games. They have helped Tampa Bay's defense rank sixth in net yards allowed, seventh in points allowed, fifth in yards allowed per play, first in rushing yards allowed per game, first in yards allowed per rush, eighth in yards allowed per pass play, sixth in sacks per pass attempt and fifth in first downs allowed per play.
The Buccaneers have two reserve inside linebackers on the roster, veteran Kevin Minter and rookie Chapelle Russell. Minter started two games in place of White last year when the then-rookie linebacker missed three games with a knee injury. The team's depth at outside linebacker includes second-year man Anthony Nelson and undrafted rookie Cam Gill. Nelson recorded his first career sack in last week's win at Detroit.