Leonard Fournette and Vita Vea have their statuses in question for this weekend
After suffering a hip injury in Germany against the Seattle Seahawks, Leonard Fournette is still not 100% following the bye week. Fournette was limited in practice Wednesday and head coach Todd Bowles told the media, “He’s pretty sore – we’ll see how the week goes. If he progresses and gets better to where he can run full speed, then he’ll play – if not, then he won’t.” If that’s the case, you’ll get a heavy dose of rookie Rachaad White, who is coming off his first career 100-yard game. However, losing Fournette for this game isn’t going to be what hurts the Bucs the most.
Vita Vea was held out of practice due to a foot injury. As the Bucs prepare to take on the NFL’s fourth leading rusher, Nick Chubb, their big man in the middle may not be available. Now, missing one practice doesn’t mean that he will for sure miss, but it’s something to keep an eye on. When the Bucs lost Akiem Hicks, they struggled against the run – giving up 100+-yard performances in five games, losing three of them. Since Hicks returned alongside Vea, the Bucs have given up 107 rushing yards in two games combined.
There’s no question Vea is one of the best nose tackles in the NFL, so facing Chubb and Kareem Hunt without him could pose a big problem.
The Bucs were also without Russell Gage on Wednesday, who is still dealing with a hamstring injury. With Julio Jones returning and becoming a viable offensive threat as the number three receiver, Gage’s role was going to be somewhat limited. There’s still the outside chance he could play, but with soft tissue injuries it’s best to wait until he’s 100%. The Bucs don’t need Gage in November as much as they’ll need him in January.
For the Browns, they had multiple players not participate but some were due to rest. Joel Bitonio, Jadeveon Clowney, Amari Cooper, and Myles Garrett all had rest days while D’Anthony Bell (concussion) Hjalte Froholdt (illness), Ronnie Harrison (illness), David Njoku (ankle/knee), and Greg Newsome (concussion) were all help out on Wednesday.
The Bucs and Browns kickoff in FirstEnergy Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on FOX with Kenny Albert and Jonathan Vilma on the call.
See below for the full injury report for both teams;