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Lavonte David, Leonard Fournette questionable for Bucs’ playoff opener

But Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul appear ready to return to action Sunday against the Eagles.
Bucs inside linebacker Lavonte David, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury, could be activated from injured reserve in time for Sunday's playoff contest against the Eagles.
Bucs inside linebacker Lavonte David, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury, could be activated from injured reserve in time for Sunday's playoff contest against the Eagles. [ TERRANCE WILLIAMS | AP ]
Published Jan. 14|Updated Jan. 14

Forty-eight hours before the Bucs formally embark on their second consecutive postseason, all signs continue pointing toward their injury-besieged lineup getting replenished.

Just not totally replenished.

Following Friday’s late-morning practice, coach Bruce Arians said inside linebacker Lavonte David and tailback Leonard Fournette — both eligible to come off injured reserve at any time — remain questionable for Sunday’s 1 p.m. playoff opener against the Eagles.

But things look more promising for outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett (knee) and Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), sidelined for two and three games, respectively.

“I feel pretty good about Shaq and JPP,” Arians told reporters via Zoom. “Lavonte will be the most questionable, with Lenny.”

The only two definitely out for Sunday’s game are receiver Cyril Grayson (hamstring) and tailback Ronald Jones (ankle). Both starting cornerbacks, Sean Murphy-Bunting (hamstring) and Carlton Davis (back), are listed as questionable but practiced on a limited basis Friday.

“I think if you can play, you play. There is no next week guaranteed,” Arians said. “But if you can’t play, you don’t play. ... Nobody’s healthy this time of year. You’ve got some nagging something, and you’ve got to play with it and you’ve got to play really well with it, too.”

As injured-reserve guys, David (foot) and Fournette (hamstring) began their 21-day practice window Wednesday. Barrett has been working out with a brace on his right knee but was seen doing some mild sprints with teammate Devin White on Thursday.

“(Barrett) looked fine,” Arians said Friday. “Those things are so light, it’s amazing with the technology anymore.”

As for David? “He did a little bit (Friday), so it’s just still wait and see how sore he gets (Saturday) and how he feels Sunday.”

With Fournette’s status still uncertain, tailback Giovani Bernard (hip, knee), who also has returned to practice and is eligible to come off IR at any time, could be in play for Sunday. Second-year guy Ke’Shawn Vaughn and veteran Le’Veon Bell, who signed last month, remain the other available backs.

“Gio’s pretty close, too, so we’ll be working him out,” Arians said. “So we should have three, maybe four backs dressed and ready to roll.”

David’s absence has remained glaring, coinciding with the ongoing struggles of White (10 tackles in the last three games). The Bucs surrendered 260 total rushing yards in their final two regular-season contests against the 4-13 Jets and 5-12 Panthers.

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Elsewhere, backup outside linebacker Anthony Nelson, sidelined earlier in the week with an ankle injury, suited up and practiced the second day in a row Friday. Nelson had a sack in each of the last three regular-season contests.

Receiver Breshad Perriman, slowed earlier in the week by a hip injury, is “full speed,” Arians said.

Eagles’ top running back Miles Sanders ‘absolutely’ playing

Philadelphia’s Miles Sanders, who missed his team’s last two regular-season games following surgery on his broken hand, said he is “absolutely” going to play against the Bucs.

The Eagles’ top running back has been practicing on a limited basis this week and said he’s confident about returning less than three weeks after having surgery. Sanders fractured his right hand against the Giants on Dec. 26 and had surgery the following day.

“I’m not going to be out there hesitant or timid. I feel good,” Sanders said Friday, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The third-year player out of Penn State rushed for 754 yards on 137 carries this season — second only to quarterback Jalen Hurts’ 784 — and caught 26 passes for 158 yards in 12 games.

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