TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians confirmed Friday that they will be without wide receiver/ returner Jaydon Mickens and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul because of injuries. Mickens is out with an abdominal injury and Pierre-Paul with a shoulder injury.
This is when the Bucs’ depth proves to be as invaluable as expected. They’ve got guys to step into those spots on Sunday against the Rams—hopefully without missing a beat.
“Honestly, we shouldn’t lose anything,” said Bucs defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. “We expect Joe (Tryon-Shoyinka) to step-up and it’s something that we’ve talked about all the time—that at any point in the season we’re going to have a young guy and/or someone who is technically a back-up to step-up and be a starter and play in a role that really is expected for them to have no drop offs. At the end of the day, we’re definitely going to miss JPP if he’s not playing, but we expect for guys to step up and fill in that role.”
This situation also underscores how glad the Bucs are to have drafted such a talented young player in Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, who has shown a lot of upside already. Arians knows there will be some bumps in the road early on, but he’s not concerned about him taking more reps this week.
“He’ll make some mistakes but he’s going to make some things happen full-speed too,” Arians said. “And we’ve got all the confidence in ‘Nelly’ (Anthony Nelson), too. Nelly’s been playing really, really well too.”
The same goes for the offensive side of the ball if Antonio Brown is not cleared to play Sunday. He was placed on the injured/ COVID-19 list on Wednesday and must have two negative COVID tests 24 hours apart to be taken-off the list and available to play. He and linebacker Kevin Minter were two players on the active roster this week who were placed on the list. As of Saturday morning, there was no update on either player’s status. On Friday, Arians did not sound optimistic about Brown’s chances but was slightly more hopeful for Minter, who was placed on the COVID-19 list two days earlier.
“It’s very questionable,” Arians said Friday about Brown’s status. “Very questionable for both he and Kevin (Minter). Kevin’s got a closer chance.”
On Thursday, Brady addressed the possibility of Brown being out this week and how we may continue to see this issue throughout the season with players testing positive despite being vaccinated.
“I think different guys are going to have to step up if (Brown) is not available,” Brady said. “I think everyone kind of new this situation someday was going to happen. I’m sure it’s not going to be the last one. We just have to deal with it as best we can. I know different players around the league have tested positive. It’s just the way things are now with the stadiums full and families traveling. We’re definitely at more risk this year. I don’t know what we can do about it, but in our situation, we will just deal with it and try to get some other guys prepared. Then if he can’t go, he can’t go.”