The Bucs will play Sunday against the Dolphins without Vernon Hargreaves, who has been their nickel defensive back the past two games.
Hargreaves, the 2016 first-round pick out of Florida and a former Wharton High standout, has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury he sustained during Sunday’s victory against the Jets. Javien Elliott filled in for the rest of that game, though the Bucs might turn back to Robert McClain, who opened the season as the nickel but missed Sunday’s game with his own hamstring injury.
As expected, QB Jameis Winston (shoulder) and DE Will Gholston (neck) were also ruled out for a second straight game, but no other players are listed on the injury report.
Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh, who hadn’t practiced this week due to a knee injury, had full participation Friday and is expected to play against the Bucs.
WR Kenny Stills, who left practice Thursday with a back injury, did not practice Friday and is listed as questionable.
The Bucs and Dolphins were to open the season against each other, but the game was postponed by Hurricane Irma in September. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said he appreciates how new Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke has made his mark after last year’s coordinator, Vance Joseph, left to become the Broncos’ head coach.
“We know a little more about them. They know more about us,” Koetter said of playing in Week 11 rather than Week 1. “This defensive coordinator has definitely put his own spin on it. They’re playing a little bit more of what we call ‘palms’ coverage, like a trap two-deep fire-zone coverage where they try to trap your receivers to the flat. … It creates some difficulties.”
WR Bernard Reedy, a former Lakewood High standout who had handled all of the Bucs’ punt and kickoff returns this season, was waived, and WR Freddie Martino was promoted from the practice squad. Martino made his season debut last week, filling in for Mike Evans during his suspension and getting two tackles on special teams. It’s unknown whom the Bucs will use on returns, though Adam Humphries handled punts last season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can’t go through a week without a defensive back missing practices, apparently. Today Vernon Hargreaves joined Jameis Winston and William Gholston on the sidelines, missing practice with a hamstring injury he picked up in Sunday’s game.
His participation next Sunday against the Miami Dolphins is now in doubt, though at least Robert McClain is back to practicing and should step in for him in case Hargreaves can’t go. Both Winston and Gholston are almost certain to miss Sunday’s game, at least.
Other than those three players, the Bucs are mostly healthy, or as healthy as an NFL team gets this late in the season. They had a few players limited in practice, but none who we should be overly worried about.
As for the Miami Dolphins, they listed three players as out with injury: defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, defensive end William Hayes, and running back Senorise Perry. Suh’s absence is obviously the most impactful in the group, we’ll see if that carries through the rest of the week.