TAMPA — Barring an 11th-hour setback, Bucs opening-night starting cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting is expected to be activated from injured reserve and log his first action in more than two months Monday night.
Coach Bruce Arians also indicated Saturday that tight end Rob Gronkowski, limited to six snaps since fracturing some ribs and puncturing a lung in a Sept. 26 loss to the Rams, also could return for Monday’s game against the Giants in at least a limited capacity.
At this point, the only player ruled out for Monday night is receiver Antonio Brown (ankle), Arians added. Nose tackle Vita Vea, who sustained a mild MCL sprain in the waning moments of last week’s 29-19 loss to Washington, hasn’t practiced this week and officially is listed as doubtful on the week’s final injury report.
Gronkowski, whose half-dozen snaps all occurred in an Oct. 31 cameo at New Orleans that was halted prematurely by back spasms, is listed as questionable.
“We’ll get a good look at (Gronkowski) pregame,” Arians said. “He moved around really well (Friday). He doesn’t practice (two days before the game) anyway. ... We’ll have to see how it goes, and if he plays, monitor his workload.”
Murphy-Bunting dislocated his right elbow early in the Sept. 9 season opener against the Cowboys. He began a 21-day practice window earlier this month and has practiced every day this week.
His return would be critical to the team’s most decimated unit. Fellow opening-night starter Carlton Davis (quad) remains on injured reserve, and was joined there earlier this week by veteran Richard Sherman (calf). Backup Dee Delaney remains in concussion protocol, and formally is listed as questionable for Monday night.
“I think Sean is showing me that he’s probably ready to go, and we’ll just see if we’re going to make that roster move yet,” Arians said.
“Getting him back’s one thing, but playing 60 plays is another. ... Sean’s been out a long time, so we can’t overload him. But there are spots, if we get him back in there, that he can help us for sure and gradually get his role back.”
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If Delaney (also dealing with a tweaked ankle) isn’t cleared for Monday, Arians said veteran cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson likely would be elevated from the practice squad.
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls
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