TAMPA – Just went it seemed the Buccaneers were starting to figure things out defensively, they have taken another hit. This wound, however, was self-inflicted.
The NFL announced on Tuesday that cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah has been suspended without pay for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances.
Adjei-Barimah’s suspension will begin immediately, which means he won’t be eligible to return to the Bucs’ active roster until Monday, Dec. 19 and won’t be able to play until they face the Saints on Christmas Eve.
Said Adjei-Barimah in a statement: “I take a lot of pride in the hard work and dedication that I put in all year in preparation for each season and that is why this situation is so difficult for me personally.
“As a member of this team, it is very disappointing to have to miss the next four games and not be out there battling with my teammates as we go down the stretch.
“I apologize to my family, the Bucs organization, my teammates, as well as the fans for this situation. I promise to stay focused and be ready for the last two games of the regular season.’’
The suspension comes at one of the worst possible times for the Bucs secondary, what with starting cornerback Brent Grimes missing most of last week’s game after suffering a quad injury.
The Bucs filled in a week ago with Alterraun Verner and Josh Robinson and the loss of Adjei-Barimah may force the Bucs to continue working those two at outside corner.
Adjei-Barimah has been working the slot corner spot since Week 3 but he only took over that position after the Bucs moved rookie Vernon Hargreaves III to outside corner.
Hargreaves could continue to start on the outside and move to slot corner in nickel packages, or the Bucs could try working either Verner, Robinson or rookie Javien Elliott, who was promoted from the practice squad, there.
But it wasn’t just at the cornerback where the Bucs received bad news on Tuesday. The team also learned that rookie offensive linemen Ben Gottschalk will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Gottschalk was placed on injured reserve after he missed all but the first 19 plays of the Bucs victory over the Chiefs last Sunday. The Bucs promoted Josh Allen from the practice squad to take Gottschalk’s place on the roster.
The loss of Gottschalk is just the latest in a string of injuries the Bucs have suffered up front offensively. The team is also without Evan Smith, who is nursing a knee injury and left guard Kevin Pamphile, who has been battling a concussion.
In addition to promoting Elliott and Allen on Tuesday, the Bucs also announced that offensive lineman Mike Liedtke (pronounced LID-kee), cornerback Cody Riggs and wide receiver Myles White have been signed to the practice squad. Running back Russell Hansbrough has been released from the practice squad.