TAMPA – It seemed a bit curious that the Buccaneers chose the day of their return to work from the bye week to bring wide receivers Donteea Dye and Freddy Martino back to the practice squad.
Well, now we know why they did that.
The Buccaneers announced Tuesday afternoon that they are placing Jackson on Injured Reserve with a torn left ACL, an injury he apparently suffered against Carolina last Monday Night.
Jackson played 53 snaps in that game, including catching two passes for 19 yards during what proved to be the Bucs game-winning field-goal drive, and he didn’t seem to be favoring the knee afterwards.
Jackson, in fact, told the Bucs he’s not sure when he suffered the injury, though it’s possible he suffered it after he took a hit to his knees from safety Kurt Coleman while making a 17-yard reception on a third-and-5 play in the first quarter.
No matter the timing, the loss now has the Bucs searching for multiple options to replace Jackson as a compliment to No. 1 receiver Mike Evans.
Veteran Cecil Shorts, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring strain but was back on the field for the Bucs on Monday is one option, as is Louis Murphy, who also returned to work Monday after missing the last year with, ironically, a torn right ACL.
And then there’s Dye and Martino, the latter of whom has been bounced on and off the Bucs roster all year while Dye has patiently waited on the street for his opportunity to open up.
An undrafted free agent, Dye may be the one of those two to watch the closest, in part because he responded well at times after the Bucs turned to him last year following the loss of Murphy.
Dye caught 11 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown in the 10 games he played and he would give the Bucs the speed option they’ve been looking for to take the top off the defense.
As for Jackson, his season and possibly his career with or without the Bucs potentially ends now after he caught just 15 passes for 173 yards in five games this season.
Now 33 and in his 12th season, the three time Pro Bowl selection has 13 100 yard receiving games and 20 touchdowns since coming to Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2012 and has vowed to fight back.
“This is obviously very disappointing for me personally,’’ Jackson said in a statement released by the Bucs. “I had high hopes for this season because I know what we are capable of accomplishing as a team.
“While I may not be on the field for the foreseeable future, I will be focused on beginning my rehab as soon as possible and finding ways to support my teammates in whatever way I can.”
Said Bucs coach Dirk Koetter of the loss: “Any time you lose a player and team leader of Vincent’s caliber, it is a setback for your team. Vincent is a very tough-minded player and a great competitor.
“Even though he doesn’t recall when he injured his knee, he was still out there the entire game and made two crucial catches on our final drive to set up the game-winning field goal.
“I know that being placed on Injured Reserve is difficult for him, but I also know he will maintain a strong presence in our locker room and will help our younger guys prepare and develop because that’s the type of team-first leader he is.”