TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without star inside linebacker Devin White in their wild-card game at Washington on Saturday because the NFL scheduled their playoff game for Saturday and not Sunday, coach Bruce Arians said Monday.
Arians also delivered some encouraging news on Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, whom he called "day-to-day."
White was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.
"It looks that way right now," Arians said of White not being able to play. " was not overly excited about that. It could potentially cost us a couple players that would play on Sunday. We're still hoping."
The "hope" Arians is referring to does not include White -- as league rules make it impossible for him to be eligible to play -- but other players with injury, like Jeremiah Ledbetter, may be affected by the shortened timeline. He believes starting cornerback Carlton Davis will be back after missing the last two games with a groin injury. He indicated Shaq Barrett, who was deemed a close contact of White, will return, as Barrett has one more day left of his five-day testing and self-quarantining window and is eligible to return as long as he has continued to test negative.
But because of league rules, White, the Bucs' fifth-overall draft pick in 2019, who led the Bucs with 9.0 sacks this year, will be unable to play in the Bucs' first playoff game in 13 years. A league spokesperson told ESPN that any player who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and then again Friday would need 10 days of displaying no symptoms as well as clearance from a doctor before he can return. The league spokesperson said the earliest that player could return, assuming there are no symptoms, would be Sunday, Jan. 10.
When he initially learned of the test result, White tweeted that he would be back for the playoffs, but he deleted the tweet shortly after, likely realizing that the NFL playoff scheduling might make that impossible.
Unlike the Bucs, the New Orleans Saints play Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, which, if Alvin Kamara does not show symptoms, would allow him to return to action this week, with Sunday being the end of his 10-day period, the same window as White.
Regarding Evans -- Arians said he experienced minimal swelling on his hyperextended left knee. He'll run in the pool today and Arians is hopeful that Evans can practice Thursday. Arians blamed the slick field conditions for Evans' injury but said the playing surface won't dictate the Bucs' decision this week for Evans. Washington's FedEx Field had a notoriously bad playing surface but was re-done this year.
"You're gonna play on whatever field they put you on, so you'd have to fight Mike to keep him [from playing]," Arians said. "If he can go, he don't give a crap about the field. But it's gonna be wet. It's gonna be in the high 30s. The ground will be slick, so it'll be moist like it always is up north this time of year."
Arians praised Evans' ability to play through an ankle injury earlier in the season.
"If he's 80%, we'd have to fight probably to keep him off the field," Arians said. "Him at 80% is probably better than a lot of guys at 100 so we'll see what he is and how he feels. But his leadership and his toughness -- when Chris [Godwin] was down, there was no way he was gonna stay out. He went out there on one leg and played about three games on one leg and still performed well."