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Injured Bucs veterans, including Rob Gronkowski, return to practice

But veteran receiver Antonio Brown’s injured ankle could sideline him indefinitely.
Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) leaves the field moments after the conclusion of his team's 38-3 rout of the Bears on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) leaves the field moments after the conclusion of his team's 38-3 rout of the Bears on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Oct. 27
Updated Oct. 27

TAMPA — If the initial game-week practice is any sign, the injury-depleted Bucs are expected to be significantly replenished when they hit the Superdome field Sunday in New Orleans.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, out the last four games with fractured ribs, returned to practice Wednesday and worked out in a limited capacity. So did inside linebacker Lavonte David, out the last two games with a high-ankle sprain; and veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, who missed Sunday’s 38-3 win against the Bears with a strained hamstring.

“It was great,” said coach Bruce Arians, whose team practiced outdoors in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads late Wednesday morning. “They looked good, and obviously the guys that stepped in did a hell of a job, so now they’ve got to live up to their standard.”

On the grim side, receiver Antonio Brown likely will be sidelined for an extended period, Arians indicated. Nursing an ankle sprain sustained in the Oct. 14 victory in Philadelphia, Brown made an appearance at practice, albeit with a crutch beneath his right arm.

Arians said the injury is around Brown’s heel. When asked if Brown might be available for the Bucs’ first game following their bye week — Nov. 14 at Washington — the coach didn’t betray optimism.

“Shoot, that injury, who knows?” Arians said. “I mean that one, it could be then or it could be a long time. ... He’s still on a crutch, so...”

Also not practicing were cornerback Dee Delaney, outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Delaney injured his ankle in the second half Sunday, and was seen doing some light running with a trainer before Wednesday’s practice. Arians said Suh is dealing with some knee soreness but should be back on his “normal routine” later in the week.

With Arians’ blessing, Pierre-Paul — dealing with a torn rotator cuff and fractured fingers — is minimizing his practice time during the week to remain available for Sundays.

“I think me and (Arians) are on the same plane,” Pierre-Paul said Wednesday. “I’m out there mentally taking all the reps like I should, and that’s basically it.”

Elsewhere, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, who dislocated his elbow early in the season opener against the Cowboys, was seen running sprints on one of the practice fields. Also running (but not suited up for practice) was receiver Scotty Miller, out the last four games with turf toe.

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Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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