Ahead of their game, we take a look at the Bucs’ final injury report and evaluate how these injuries may affect the team heading into their playoff matchup.
Bucs final injury report
Out: WR Antonio Brown (knee)
Questionable: S Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle)
Notable players on in-week report who were removed from final: WR Mike Evans (knee), WR Chris Godwin (quad), RB Ronald Jones (quad, finger), DLJeremiah Ledbetter (calf), G Ali Marpet (pectoral), CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad, ankle), LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee, not injury related), DL Ndamukong Suh (not injury related), S Jordan Whitehead (knee)
How injuries could affect Bucs vs. Packers matchup
Antonio Browns’ injury might not seem terribly impactful on paper given the Buccaneers’ depth at wide receiver, but he grew into a major part of the offense during the final stretch of the regular season. From Week 15 through the wild-card round, Brown averaged roughly 79 yards and 1.25 touchdowns. Quarterback Tom Brady has other wideouts he likes in Tampa, but none in which he has as much trust as Brown. It doesn’t help that both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will play through injuries in a game forecasted for cold and snowy weather.
On defense, rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. will battle an ankle injury. Winfield proved tremendously important when the Buccaneers and Packers last faced off, playing on every defensive snap for a unit that held presumptive MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense to a season-low 10 points. Winfield factors into both the run and pass defense, leaving Tampa vulnerable if he cannot go or can only contribute in a limited capacity.
Still, the Buccaneers received some positive news this week. Starting nose tackle Vita Vea officially came off injured reserve, leaving the door open for a return in the NFC title game. Vea would provide an immediate boost to the run defense, an area Green Bay exploited a week ago against the Los Angeles Rams.