Buccaneers DE Robert Ayers (ankle) appears likely to return this weekend for his 1st game since Week 2. He's questionable for Sunday's game against the Raiders after putting in limited practices Wednesday and Thursday and a full workout Friday. DT Gerald McCoy is also questionable with the calf strain that has bothered him for several weeks. McCoy began this week off the injury report but showed up Wednesday and Thursday with only limited participation. DT Clinton McDonald (quad) will miss his 3rd straight game. He put in limited practices all week, so perhaps he'll be ready for Week 9.
The Buccaneers have placed MLB Devin White and OLB Shaq Barrett on the COVID list. That obviously knocks them out for Sunday's game against the Falcons -- 2 big losses for a defense that allowed Atlanta 27 points and 332 passing yards 2 weeks ago. The team defense takes a step back as a fantasy option with the losses as well. White (with 9) and Barrett (8) rank 2nd and 3rd on the team in sacks for the year. It's not yet clear whether either player tested positive, which would threaten their availability for next week's playoff opener. We'll keep an eye on that. Kevin Minter looks like the White replacement, with Anthony Nelson the next guy up on the edge.
Update: NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that White tested positive, so expect him to miss the playoff opener as well. Barrett is close contact, so he'll be back for that game as long as he continues to test negative.
Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians confirmed on Sirius XM NFL Radio Wednesday that he'll be "playing everybody" and "playing to win" in Sunday's game against the Falcons. He said they want to get to 11-5 and take the 5th seed rather than drop to the 6th with a loss. It's nice to hear such confirmation if you're planning to play Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans or any other Buc in Week 17 fantasy.
Buccaneers CB Jamel Dean (shoulder) is active for today's game against the Colts. He left last week's game in the 1st quarter but made it back to full practices during the week. Dean carries upside as a CB in IDP lineups. Slot CB M.J. Stewart (knee) is also active after missing the past 3 games and 5 of the past 6. He has likely been replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Sean Murphy-Bunting moving inside -- with Dean starting outside opposite Carlton Davis. We'll seek confirmation on that in today's game.
The Buccaneers have ruled EDGE Carl Nassib (groin) out for Sunday's game against the Saints. That will mark his 2nd straight missed game. CB Carlton Davis (hip) is questionable. He returned for a limited practice Thursday and then a full Friday workout, which makes Davis seem likely to play. His status doesn't alter the outlook for any Saints WRs or Drew Brees.
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