Barber fractured his left thumb late in the fourth quarter of Tampa Bay's 23-10 win over Carolina. Barber was undergoing surgery to repair the thumb when Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden addressed the media Monday morning. Barber's status for Sunday's game won't be determined until the surgery is completed.
"Ronde Barber fractured his left thumb yesterday and was unable to finish the game," said Gruden. "He is in surgery at this time. When the surgery is complete we'll know his status. Right now he's very questionable for this game. Should he be able to play he'll wear a cast on that thumb. We're obviously very concerned about him. He is a great football player at this time."
Barber has recorded 57 tackles, one interception and defended 15 passes this season. Teams have opted not to throw to the right side of Tampa Bay's defense as much this season because of the ballhawking skills he displayed last season (10 interceptions). If Barber cannot play against the Packers, second-year CB Dwight Smith, who has recorded three interceptions and defended six passes this season as the team's nickel back, will start alongside CB Brian Kelly.
"We'd obviously lean on Dwight Smith, who is a very good football player," said Gruden. "We'd have to knock on young Tim Wansley's door and have both he and Corey Ivy step up in our nickel and dime packages. We're going to remain optimistic. We realize Ronde won't be playing the piano any time soon, but if there is any guy alive that can find a way to play, Barber is that guy."
While they're concerned about Barber's injury, the Bucs will remain optimistic while they wait for Barber's official status for Sunday's game to be determined, which could happen as soon as Monday afternoon.
"It's a concern," Gruden said of the possibility of losing Barber for Sunday's game against Green Bay. "You lose Anthony McFarland, it's a concern. You lose your starting quarterback and it's a concern. But we have Dwight Smith and we have guys that can play. I would just personally say that Ronde Barber, to me, is playing as good as any cornerback in football. This guy is playing lights-out football. We need this guy and as soon as his surgery is complete we'll be able to give you guys a little bit better information in terms of his status."
In other injury news, Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who was also not able to finish the game against Carolina on Sunday due to back spasms, will be listed as probable for Sunday's game against Green Bay.
"Warren Sapp has a lower back strain," said Gruden. "We're going to list him as probable and hope that this back spasm that he has occurring will subside."
Bucs defensive nose tackle Anthony McFarland, who is still recovering from surgery to repair a broken forearm he sustained a few weeks ago against Carolina, will not play against the Packers. The Bucs are, however, hoping he will be ready to play against New Orleans the following week.
"Anthony McFarland will be listed as out of this game," Gruden said on Monday. "He is improving and we're going to be optimistic and hope that the big fella will be ready to go against New Orleans. But he'll be out for this game."
Buccaneers wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who caught seven passes for 74 yards and one touchdown against the Panthers Sunday, will be listed as probable for Sunday's game with a right hip contusion.
"Keyshawn Johnson has a right hip contusion and he's very probable for this Sunday's game," said Gruden. "He missed periods of the game yesterday, but we expect him to play."
Tampa Bay starting right tackle Kenyatta Walker will also be listed as probable with a ankle sprain, but he might miss some practice time this week due to the injury.
"Keynatta Walker has a right ankle sprain," said Gruden. "He might be limited on the practice field Wednesday, but we're going to list him as probable."
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