Bucs’ Brown, Gronkowski out Sunday vs. Bears

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ growing list of key players missing games due to injury will now include wide receiver Antonio Brown, whom coach Bruce Arians ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears due to an ankle injury.

Brown missed practice all week with a sprained ankle, which he suffered in the Bucs’ 28-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday. But the extra rest wasn’t enough for Sunday.

It will be Brown’s second game missed this season after missing Week 3 due to COVID-19. Brown’s 418 receiving yards are second-most on the team – just two shy of Mike Evans and nine more than Chris Godwin. Second-year wide receiver Tyler Johnson is expected to step into Brown’s role.

“Tyler has done a good job. Everyone has a lot of confidence in Tyler,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “He does a good job out here whenever he gets his chance and he’s made a bunch of plays in games. It’s certainly not too big for him and I think he’s got a good attitude, a good work ethic. We’ve just got to keep all trying to get better together.”

The Bucs will also be without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who continues to recover from a rib injury, inside linebacker Lavonte David, who is recovering from a low ankle sprain, and cornerback Richard Sherman who has a pulled hamstring.

Arians had said earlier in the week that he “had his fingers crossed” David might be able to return.

The status of outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul is still to be determined after he missed practice all week with shoulder and hand injuries.

On a positive note, Arians said that safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who has missed the last two games after suffering a concussion in Week 4 at the New England Patriots, cleared the concussion protocol Thursday and will be active Sunday, meaning the Bucs will have three of their original starting five defensive backs (Winfield Jr., Jordan Whitehead and Jamel Dean) playing Sunday.

A win Sunday would put the Bucs at 6-1, which would be their best start in franchise history.

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