The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive line added four sacks and another superb run-stuffing performance to its strong early-season showing on Sunday in Dallas. Unfortunately, that group also lost something very significant before the game was over at Cowboys Stadium.
Head Coach Greg Schiano confirmed on Monday afternoon that starting right end
Clayborn will have surgery in a couple of weeks and will be placed on injured reserve on Monday. That will open a spot on the 53-man roster, but the Bucs did not immediately have a companion move to fill that vacancy.
This is the second time in just under a month that Tampa Bay has seen one of its core linemen go down with a season-ending knee injury. On August 25, the Bucs placed Pro Bowl guard
Similarly, the loss of Clayborn robs from a unit that had been performing quite well during the season's first month. The Buccaneers rank second in the NFL in run defense, allowing just 47.3 yards per game, and have already rung up seven sacks through three games. After recording 23 sacks in all of 2011, the Bucs are on pace to finish with 37 in 2012.
Clayborn had yet to tally his first sack of the new season, but his relentless style of play was a key part of the team's combined pass rush. Clayborn's presence at right end has helped
Anticipating Monday's unfortunate news, Buccaneers defensive linemen discussed Clayborn's loss and how they would account for his absence earlier in the day.
The immediate answers on the depth chart include third-year man
Schiano said that some of the Bucs' compensation for the loss of Clayborn could also come from schematic changes.
"We'll look at everything," he said. "We'll look internally, we'll look if there's anything outside that's better. We'll look at it schematically – maybe we'll have to play some more three-down fronts and do some different things to stretch the personnel a little bit. Nothing's out of the realm. You adapt, and that's what we'll do."
Clayborn has started all 19 games since joining the Buccaneers as the 20th overall selection in the 2011 draft. Last year he finished with 54 tackles, 7.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He also turned in 26 quarterback pressures, by far the highest total on the Bucs' defense.