TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers activated inside linebacker Lavonte David and running back Giovani Bernard from injured reserve in advance of Sunday’s wild-card game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced Saturday.
David and Bernard are officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Both players, along with running back Leonard Fournette, began their 21-day practice window this week to return from IR. A source told ESPN that Fournette, who is recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in Week 15, will not be activated for Sunday. The Bucs had until 4 p.m. Saturday to make the decision.
David suffered a foot sprain in Week 15, and Bernard suffered a sprained MCL in his knee and a stretched tendon in his hip in Week 14.
The longest-tenured Buccaneer at 10 seasons, and regarded as the “heart and soul of the Bucs’ defense,” David could play a critical role in helping stop the Eagles’ top-ranked rushing attack. Before the injury, David had 118 combined tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 4 pass breakups. His 26 combined tackles last year was the second most of any player on any team in the postseason, as was his five pass breakups.
Bernard helps provide depth and experience for a rushing attack without its top two backs in Fournette and Ronald Jones, who was ruled out Friday with an ankle injury. The Bucs will have Ke’Shawn Vaughn active, along with Le’Veon Bell, who signed with the club last month.
In 12 games this year, Bernard had 181 scrimmage yards on 31 touches, which included 23 catches for 123 receiving yards. Sunday will mark his fourth career postseason game and his first since 2015.
In addition, Tampa Bay elevated running back Kenjon Barner and tight end Codey McElroy from the practice squad to the active roster for Sunday’s game and waived cornerback Rashard Robinson and wide receiver Justin Watson.