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Giovani Bernard full participant in practice after dealing with high ankle sprain

The Bucs RB is expected to be a key cog in the offense.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers OTA
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Giovani Bernard participates in organized team activities at AdventHealth Training Center.
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Giovani Bernard was a full participant in practice after dealing with a mild high ankle sprain for the past few weeks, according to the team’s injury report. That designation means Bernard is likely to suit up for Thursday’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys. The running back is expected to be a big part of Tampa Bay’s offense, especially in passing situations and on third downs.

If Bernard does go, that means less touches for Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones. The two split duties for most of last season until Fournette emerged during the playoffs as the superior runner. The offense still flows though Tom Brady, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin but Tampa Bay will want more balance this season. Bernard adds a receiving element more likely to take away from Fournette’s volume, but Jones will also be affected by the running back’s presence.

The Buccaneers enter the season at +600 to win the Super Bowl according to DraftKings Sportsbook, good for the second-best odds behind the Kansas City Chiefs. They are the favorites to win the NFC at +275, well ahead of the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.