TAMPA — The bay area’s most scrutinized hamstring apparently is nearing a game-ready level.
Bucs tailback Leonard Fournette, still technically on injured reserve, was spotted at the portion of Thursday morning’s practice open to reporters. Afterward, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich conveyed cautious optimism about his leading rusher’s availability for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Rams.
Fournette hasn’t played since tweaking his hamstring in the Bucs’ 9-0 home loss to the Saints on Dec. 19.
“We’re still using this week to see if he’s healthy and how healthy he is,” Leftwich told reporters.
“I’ll have a better idea of what he can do as we get more towards Friday. But right now, it’s just good to see him out there right now trying to work his way back into do what he’s doing. But once he’s healthy, we expect Lenny to be Lenny.”
Coach Bruce Arians, who doesn’t address reporters on Thursdays, is expected to provide an update on all his injured players after Friday’s practice. Two days ago, Fournette tweeted a message suggesting he would be ready for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff against the Rams.
Among those not spotted Thursday was All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs, absent a second consecutive day with a sprained ankle. Two other injured linemen, center Ryan Jensen (ankle) and backup tackle Josh Wells (quad), were seen at practice. Jensen was listed as a non-participant on the team’s official injury report; Wells was a limited participant.
Elsewhere, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (hamstring) and receiver Cyril Grayson (hamstring) were seen working with speed-and-conditioning coach Roger Kingdom. Tailback Ronald Jones, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, was out of his protective boot and working with a trainer.
Murphy-Bunting was a limited practice participant Thursday, with Grayson and Jones listed as non-participants.
Quarterback Tom Brady had a veteran’s day off, though he told reporters Thursday he has denied all non-mandatory media requests in an effort to focus exclusively on the Rams.
“I even told (Bucs vice president of communications) Nelson (Luis), I don’t do anything extra this week, I just want to do football,” Brady said.
“That’s all I want to do, to prepare and get ready. That’s how we should all approach it. This isn’t the time for the trips to the movie theaters. It’s a time to lock in on football, because this is all we have. It’s three days left, and we’ve got to earn more.”
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