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Injury bug takes a bite out of Bucs coaches

Bruce Arians and defensive staffer Lori Locust needed help getting around Wednesday.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians walks off the field after Sunday's 30-17 win over the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians walks off the field after Sunday's 30-17 win over the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. [ DANNY KARNIK | AP ]
Published Dec. 8, 2021|Updated Dec. 8, 2021

TAMPA — The Bucs’ injury outbreak has matriculated from the cornerback room to the coaching staff.

Three days after limping noticeably during his postgame press conference following his team’s win against the Falcons, 69-year-old coach Bruce Arians arrived at his Wednesday media session on a motorized scooter, his right foot in a protective boot.

Arians, who said he suffered an Achilles injury while running to remain in shape, wasn’t the only staffer requiring assistance to get around. Assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust was spotted using crutches during practice; the specifics of her injury haven’t been revealed.

“He loves football, and it’s tough to see him in that boot,” left guard Ali Marpet said.

“It just proves that we can fight through adversity from the top down, bottom up, throughout the rotation. ... All hands on deck. It’s really inspirational.”

As for player injuries, Arians won’t have a better idea on the repercussions of Sunday’s triumph until Thursday. Those not participating in Wednesday’s walk-through included cornerback Jamel Dean (concussion protocol), center Ryan Jensen (ankle), safety Jordan Whitehead (shoulder) and defensive lineman William Gholston (wrist/knee).

“There really was nothing to be done physically (Wednesday),” said Arians, whose team hosts the Bills (7-5) Sunday afternoon. “It’s that time of year to mentally prepare, and we’ve got a hell of a challenge in front of us. They’re a very, very good team with a great quarterback (Josh Allen), so it will take everything we’ve got.”

Whether veteran cornerback Richard Sherman joins the secondary in that challenge remains unclear.

Sherman, placed on injured reserve after suffering a calf injury during pregame warmups Nov. 14 against Washington, began his 21-day practice window Wednesday. So did receiver Justin Watson, who underwent offseason knee surgery and has been on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.

Both are eligible to be moved to the active roster at any time during that window.

“(Wednesday) was a walk-through,” Arians said. “We’ll just see where (Sherman) is at (Thursday).”

Sherman, who tried to play three games in 12 days upon signing with the Bucs in late September, rang a more optimistic tone during his weekly podcast that dropped Wednesday.

“They threw me right in the mix, so my calf, my hamstring, it took a second to get adjusted,” he told Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, a guest on his podcast. “Now I’m feeling good and we’ve got all the other young corners healthy, so they’re trying to mix me in at safety, corner, nickel.”

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