TAMPA, Fla. – The coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bruce Arians said Friday that he will decide until the last minute whether tight end Rob Gronkowski (ribs) plays the New England Patriots, although the team later labeled him doubtful in his final injury report.
Arians also noted that outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (hand, shoulder) will be decision before the game; it is officially listed as questionable.
Gronkowski was seen practicing Friday during the open-to-media portion, but did not participate for the third day in a row, while Pierre-Paul practiced for the first time since Sept. 15. Arians had said Monday that he “did not anticipate” Pierre-Paul playing this weekend.
Gronkowski has been one of the Bucs’ most potent red zone weapons this season, while Pierre-Paul has been the emotional leader of a defense that has just three sacks in the first three games.
Running back Giovani Bernard (knee) would be out. Also cornerback Jamel Dean (knee), which means the Bucs won’t have two of the three starting cornerbacks. Richard Sherman, who signed with the team on Wednesday, will be active.
“We’ll have it ready just in case,” Arians said.
Sherman said he would need about a week to acclimate to the Bucs’ system.