One of the most talked about decisions of the day for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers happened before Sunday's game even started.
In a rather surprising move, the Bucs benched Devin White before kickoff and listed him among the team's inactive list for Week 15 against the Packers. It was entirely unexpected, as White had been healthy enough to practice all week and carried only a 'questionable' injury designation into the contest.
White has been out since Week 13, as he last played in the Bucs loss to the Indianapolis Colts at the end of November. In the two games he's missed, White has been effecitvely replaced by K.J. Britt and J.J. Russell who both stepped up to varying degrees of success in back-to-back wins for Tampa Bay.
All signs pointed toward White making his return on Sunday in a must-win game for the Bucs, which made his excused absence even more notable.
More details emerge over Devin White being a healthy scratch in Week 15 (Updated)
Update: After the game, Todd Bowles was asked about the decision to make White inactive and confirmed that it was injury-related. This goes against what the intial reports were, although Bowles didn't exactly sound happy with White not being able to play.
He also confirmed that it was a coach's decision to bench White.
NFL Network's Stacey Dales initially reported that White's inactive status had nothing to do with an injury, which raised a few eyebrows.
After the news broke that White would be a healthy scratch, Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud did some digging and uncovered a few new nuggets about the decision. It ultimately seemed Todd Bowles made the call to bench White ahead of kickoff, but it doesn't sound like the decision was one-sided.
Stroud passed along word that he'd heard White told coaches he didn't think he could play on Sunday.
White's foot has been an issue the last few weeks and has kept him out of action, but he's been battling injuries all season. He infamously didn't run back a critical interception against Buffalo that might have swung the final score due to what was later described as a groin injury,
All of this is happening against the backdrop of his ongoing contract situation. White requested a trade back in April after not hearing numbers that he liked during extension talks, and while he rescinded and essentially apologized for making the request it's something that fans have colored his entire season with.
It doesn't help that White has looked like a shell of his former Pro Bowl self. He's turned in a few good performances, but for the most part, it seems like fans call his name more for plays that he goofs on -- like a horrendous Gardner Minshew scramble for a touchdown -- than for good plays that he makes.
We'll have to wait until we hear from Bowles and White on what really is going on, but in the meantime we have a bit of extra context to work with in a rather puzzling situation.