The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have their original starting trio of cornerbacks in action in Week 16 with the return of Jamel Dean from an illness. They will not have their starting wideouts in place, but they do get Antonio Brown back after an eight-game absence.
Dean was listed as questionable on the Buccaneers' Friday injury report after missing most of the past two games, but he practiced without limitations this week and was cleared to play on Sunday morning. He joins Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting in the lineup, replicating what the Bucs started with in Game One, even if that trio has rarely been on the field together since.
Brown missed five games with an ankle injury and then served a three-game league suspension but is back to face the Panthers and help a receiving corps that is suddenly without starters Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Godwin is out for the season with a knee injury and Evans is inactive with a hamstring strain.
The Buccaneers will also be without starting outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, who did not make the trip to Charlotte due to a shoulder injury that he has played through for most of the season. Rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka is likely to start in his place. Safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. will miss a second straight game with a foot injury but Mike Edwards returns from a suspension and is expected to join Jordan Whitehead in the starting lineup.
Finally, the Buccaneers will have a new punter in Week 16. Sterling Hofrichter was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday and he remains active while Bradley Pinion is inactive. Pinion has been dealing with a right hip injury.
Tampa Bay and Carolina each submitted a list of inactive players at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, 90 minutes before the scheduled kickoff of their Week 16 game at Bank of America Stadium. The Buccaneers came into the game with 54 players on the active roster after elevating four from the practice squad on Saturday. That means Tampa Bay had to name six players inactive in order to get down to the game limit of 48 on Sunday.
The Panthers will have another shakeup on their offensive line after placing starting center Pat Elflein on injured reserve and making starting left tackle Cameron Erving inactive on Sunday. Rookie Brady Christensen will take over for Erving, making his fourth career start, and first-year player Sam Tecklenburg will move into the center spot, making his first NFL start.
- CB Pierre Desir
- WR Mike Evans
- OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
- P Bradley Pinion
- QB Kyle Trask
- S Antoine Winfield, Jr.
Evans, Pierre-Paul, Pinion and Winfield are out due to injury.
- T Cameron Erving
- DE Frank Herron
- DT Phil Hoskins
- DE Darryl Johnson
- LB Kamal Martin
- QB P.J. Walker
Erving and Hoskins are out due to injury.