TAMPA, Fla. — The Bucs will have to hold their defense together with duct tape and baling wire for at least another week.
Second-leading tackler Lavonte David (ankle) and cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring) will not play Sunday at home against the Bears, coach Bruce Arians announced Friday. They’ll be joined on the sideline by tight end Rob Gronkowski (ribs) and receiver Antonio Brown (ankle).
Additionally, edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, still battling lingering hand/shoulder issues, was held out of practice by Arians but could play, the coach indicated. On the positive side, safety Antoine Winfield — who practiced for the third consecutive day Friday — has passed his concussion protocol and is cleared for action.
Friday’s announcements mean the Bucs — seeking the first 6-1 start in franchise history — will employ their seventh starting cornerback tandem (or trio) of the season, with 31-year-old journeyman Pierre Desir or special teams regular Dee Delaney likely starting opposite third-year veteran Jamel Dean.
The opening-night starting cornerbacks, Sean Murphy-Bunting (elbow) and Carlton Davis (quad), remain on injured reserve.
Veteran backup Kevin Minter will start in place of David, and rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka can fill in as needed for Pierre-Paul, who played 41 defensive snaps (or 79%) in last week’s win against the Eagles. Tryon-Shoyinka recorded two solo tackles in 19 snaps.
“It helps so much,” Arians said. “We can decrease or increase (Pierre-Paul’s) snaps and get them out there together as much as we can. But yeah, that really helps.”
Gronkowski, seen running with a flak jacket at Thursday’s practice, will miss his fourth consecutive game with fractured ribs. Another tight end, O.J. Howard (ankle), practiced for a second day in a row and officially is listed as questionable for Sunday.©2021 Tampa Bay Times. Visit tampabay.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.