The postmortem from the Bucs’ 29-19 defeat at Washington contained a sliver of encouraging news, with coach Bruce Arians confirming various reports that nose tackle Vita Vea’s knee injury isn’t as serious as originally feared.
Arians said Vea, injured on Washington’s winning touchdown run with 29 seconds remaining, sustained a bone bruise and “maybe a slight MCL” sprain. His status for next Monday night’s home game against the Giants remains unclear.
“That’s really good news,” Arians said. “Don’t know his availability for this week yet, but he’s a tough guy. He’s had that thing before, so he knows how to deal with it.”
Offsetting Arians’ report was a more grim outlook regarding cornerback Richard Sherman, who was set to undergo an MRI for the calf strain he sustained just before kickoff Sunday. Sherman, who appeared in three games in 12 days upon signing with the Bucs in late September, hasn’t appeared in a game since injuring a hamstring in the first quarter against the Eagles on Oct. 14.
“I doubt seriously if he’ll be back any time soon,” Arians said.
The Bucs don’t return to practice until Wednesday, when they’ll have a bonus workout to commence preparations for the Giants. Seventh-year veteran Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who filled in admirably when Vea fractured an ankle in Week 5 last season, would step in again. Veteran Steve McLendon, inactive three games this season, also is available.
“(Vea) can bear weight, so we’ll just wait and see if he can play this week or not,” Arians said.
Replenishing the cornerback spot is a far trickier proposition.
With Sherman likely sidelined and Dee Delaney questionable at best with a concussion suffered in the second half Sunday, the Bucs’ current healthy options include Pierre Desir, Jamel Dean, corner/safety hybrid Ross Cockrell and recent practice-squad addition Blidi Wreh-Wilson.
Opening night starter Sean Murphy-Bunting, out since dislocating his elbow against the Cowboys on Sept. 9, has returned to practice and could be close to returning, but Arians said he wouldn’t know more until watching Murphy-Bunting at practice this week.
“(Sherman) was fine; he was fine Thursday and Friday,” Arians said. “I thought he was going to have a heck of a ball game. He just strained his calf before the ball game, so I don’t know how long it will be.”
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