The lingering question of whether the Bucs might rest a significant number of starters before the postseason has been rendered moot.
At this point, they’ll have no starters to rest.
Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett is the latest to go on the shelf. Coach Bruce Arians confirmed Monday that the Bucs’ leader in sacks (10.0) and quarterback hits (22) sprained his right MCL and ACL late in the first half of Sunday’s 32-6 win against the Panthers and likely won’t return until the postseason.
“It’s not severe, but he’s probably out for the rest of the regular season,” Arians said. “Hopefully we’ll have him back for the playoffs.”
In other news, receivers coach Kevin Garver and Mike Evans tested positive for COVID-19, an ominous sign for an already-depleted position group. Though Breshad Perriman was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday afternoon, Chris Godwin (knee) remains out for the season and Evans (hamstring) didn’t play at Carolina.
Because Garver is vaccinated, he needs only two negative tests in a 24-hour period to be cleared to return to work. Evans injured his hamstring in the Bucs’ 9-0 loss to the Saints two weeks ago. It’s possible he would have been unable to play this Sunday at the Jets anyway, but the positive test complicates things further.
Barrett was injured while pressuring Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold on a third-down incompletion with less than a minute remaining in the first half. After lifting himself from the turf, he walked (albeit with a mild limp) directly to the locker room and returned for one third-quarter series before exiting for good.
He joins an elongated — and Pro Bowl-caliber — list of sidelined Bucs. In addition to Godwin and Evans, inside linebacker Lavonte David (foot) and tailback Leonard Fournette (hamstring) are on injured reserve; and fellow outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) was ruled inactive Sunday.
The silver lining: The Bucs are building depth, and perhaps confidence, with their replenishments. Receiver Cyril Grayson (three catches, 81 yards) and tailback Ke’Shawn Vaughn (seven carries, 70 yards) had career afternoons Sunday, while backup linebackers Kevin Minter and Anthony Nelson accounted for two of the team’s seven sacks.
Look for Nelson and rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to continue filling the outside linebacker voids while Barrett and Pierre-Paul remain out, with second-year guy Cam Gill also logging snaps.
“It’s going to be scary when we get everybody back healthy (on) this team, everybody loaded up and ready to go,” safety Jordan Whitehead said.
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“As we get guys back, we’ve built some great depth through the injuries, and hopefully we’ll get Mike back and (Perriman) back and see how the receiver corps builds back up. And hopefully, knock on wood, we don’t lose anybody else.”
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.
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