TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won't be forced to start two rookie cornerbacks against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Bucs coach Bruce Arians said starting cornerback Carlton Davis will play, seeing his first action since suffering a hip injury two weeks ago in warm-ups against the Seattle Seahawks.
Jamel Dean, who had played just three defensive snaps before the game, replaced him in Seattle and surrendered three touchdowns in a 40-34 overtime loss, but last week produced a game-winning interception in a 30-27 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
"It's a big help -- he's our best corner -- to have him back out there," Arians said of Davis. "He looked real good today. It'll give us a good mix of all our guys."
On Tuesday, the Bucs released their other starting cornerback, 2016 first-round draft pick Vernon Hargreaves, a surprising move considering Davis' uncertain status and the absence of nickelback M.J. Stewart, who is expected to be out 3-4 weeks with a knee injury. Arians was pleased with how his young group stepped up this week during preparation, once again arriving in the building for extra film work before teammates and staying late.
"I think [defensive coordinator] Todd [Bowles] said it -- 'I have too many of them in my office and didn't have enough furniture,'" Arians said with a chuckle. "He had to move down to the DB room this morning!"
Arians also announced that backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert will not return from injured reserve this season because of a shoulder injury and that neither will offensive lineman Zack Bailey, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 6. Arians said starting safety Justin Evans, who underwent Achilles/ankle surgery in October, will undergo surgery on his other foot after his rehabilitation.