Third-year wide receiver Arrelious Benn was a full participant in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; however, his status is up in the air for the first game of the regular season. The Buccaneers open their 2012 campaign on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium.
The Buccaneers' released their end-of-the-week injury report on Friday, the first one that included the NFL's official game-status designations of "out," "doubtful," "questionable" or "probable." Benn was listed as questionable, which is defined on the report as a "50-50 chance [the player] will not play."
Benn appeared to be at or near full speed in practice this week, but he missed all of training camp and the four preseason tune-up games. Last week, he told Buccaneers.com that he was "definitely targeting Week One" for his return, but the questionable designation indicates that is not yet a sure thing.
Benn, a starter for most of the past two seasons, is considered the top candidate to serve as the team's third receiver and primary fill-in for starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, though his long layoff could mean a gradual introduction into the attack. The Buccaneers kept two other receivers – Preston Parker and Sammie Stroughter – on the 53-man roster and could conceivably keep all five active on any given Sunday depending on their potential special teams contributions.
Benn was one of only three players to appear on the Bucs' injury report this week. Cornerbacks E.J. Biggers (foot) and Anthony Gaitor (hamstring) rounded out the list, and both were limited participants in each practice this week. Biggers and Gaitor are each considered doubtful for the Carolina game.
The most significant injury on Carolina's four-man injury report on Friday was running back Jonathan Stewart, who is considered questionable due to an ankle injury. Linebacker Jon Beason (thigh) and wide receiver Steve Smith (foot) are both probable after practicing fully on Friday.