This was not supposed to be the way the season ended. No, the Buccaneers were not supposed to be injury-ravaged, while 4-10 and with more uncertainty as to whether they were going to fire yet another head coach.
They were not supposed to be talking about who can’t play, and scouring the practice squad and the waiver wire for healthy bodies to field a 53 man roster.
Yet, here we are. Having lost four in a row and guaranteeing their sixth 10-loss season in the last nine years, the Bucs are struggling on the scoreboard. However, the bigger concern is the health in the short-term and for next season for the team.
Tuesday afternoon, coach Dirk Koetter met the media and was asked for the latest on injuries and whether some players are done for the remainder of the year. “Yeah, there will be. That will be coming soon, but Adarius Glanton for sure. [He] had to have some surgery last night. J.R. Sweezy will be done for the year. There [are] a couple more that could be coming, but just with the game getting over so late last night [not everything is finalized], but those are two for sure.”
Glanton suffered a serious left leg fracture after a collision with teammate Robert Ayers and was carted with an air cast on his leg. Offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy, who also suffered a lower leg injury, was on crutches in the locker room post game.
They’ll join starting offensive lineman Ali Marpet and Demar Dotson, who were already put on IR with different knee injuries three weeks ago.
And the parade of injured players, who may have played their last game in 2017, is not done yet.
Rookie tight end O.J. Howard’s right ankle was hit and injured on his first quarter touchdown (photo above) and a source tells F.F.I., that the injury is serious enough that he will also go on IR at some point in the next day or two.
On Wednesday morning, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that another Buccaneer is done for the season:
The #Bucs are placing ex-1st round pick CB Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring) on Injured Reserve, source said. Could be more coming, too. Injuries hit hard, with G J.R. Sweezy and LBAdarius Glanton already on IR.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 20, 2017
Hargreaves, the former #1 pick by Tampa Bay a year ago, has been out with that hamstring injury for the last four games.
Also in the secondary, rookie safety Justin Evans left the game in the first half with a left leg injury that appeared to be serious and his status is uncertain at best for Carolina.
Next, speedy veteran receiver DeSean Jackson suffered a left ankle injury on a catch in the first half Monday night, could not return and you wonder about his status for the remaining two games, as well.
We know that Gerald McCoy has a biceps injury and could not play in the Monday night game with Atlanta. And, you have to wonder with nothing to play for but pride, if McCoy hasn’t played his final game for the Bucs this season.
What about starting linebacker Lavonte David? He couldn’t play with a hamstring injury Monday night, and if it’s still bothering him for this week, what’s the incentive to risk further injury playing at much less than full speed in either of the last two games?
If you weren’t keeping track of all of that above, that’s six more significant Buccaneers (besides Glanton and Sweezy) that could be going on the injured reserve list or at the minimum, will not be playing Christmas Eve in Charlotte.
Yes most NFL teams are dealing with a long list of injuries or at least bumps, bruises and soreness this time of year. It’s part of the physical nature that takes its toll every November and December in the NFL.
But for 2017 in Tampa Bay, it seems to be worse than in recent memory.
Yes, Koetter and his staff will out of necessity get a look at some younger players, because of rash of significant injuries and that does have some benefit.
But it’s little consolation to Bucs fans that the season has gone down the drain and the star players that they are accustomed to seeing, won’t even be able to help.
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