3 Key Defensive Backs Return to Practice for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be getting some much-needed reinforcements on defense as they try to find their footing before the postseason. Defensive backs Antoine Winfield Jr, Mike Edwards, and Sean Murphy-Bunting all practiced on Thursday, opening the door for their returns in Week 15's matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. Winfield (ankle), Edwards (hamstring), and Murphy-Bunting (quadriceps) have all missed the Bucs' previous two games. Winfield and Edwards have started every one of their healthy games this year, and Murphy-Bunting has served as a rotational cornerback, playing 165 defensive snaps.

Given the struggles of the offense (28th in points scored), the Buccaneers will need their defense in tiptop shape if they're going to maintain their lead in the NFC South. At 6-7, they control their own destiny in the division, but they're likely to find themselves in a lot of low-scoring affairs over the final four weeks of the season. A healthy secondary should come in handy.

Winfield joined the Bucs as their 45th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and quickly established himself as a star at safety, earning an All-Pro in 2021. Murphy-Bunting and Edwards joined the Bucs as second and third-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. All three played key parts on the Bucs' Super Bowl-winning 2020 team.
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