CB Torrie Cox had just inherited the kickoff return job before his season-ending injury on Sunday
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost yet another player to their seemingly endless run of injuries. On Wednesday, the Buccaneers placed cornerback Torrie Cox on injured reserve due to a knee injury that will require surgery.
That was one of a series of moves the Buccaneers made on Wednesday, in what is becoming an almost weekly shuffling of the roster. The team also re-signed wide receiver Chas Gessner and released wide receiver Chad Lucas. The Bucs also made a switch on the practice squad, signing cornerback Darrell Hunter and releasing wide receiver Derrick Hamilton.
Cox, who sustained his season-ending injury on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, is the 12th player to land on Tampa Bay's IR list this season, the sixth since the season began. He is the second primary kickoff return man the team has lost in eight days; Cox had just inherited that job from Mark Jones, who suffered his own season-ending knee injury the week before in Detroit.
In addition, quarterback Chris Simms went to injured reserve on October 9; running back Cadillac Williams and tackle Luke Petitgout were lost for the season on October 3; and rookie safety Sabby Piscitelli went out on September 26. Before the season, the IR list claimed fullback Mike Alstott, defensive end Charles Bennett, linebacker Antoine Cash, tackle Chris Denman, linebacker Sam Olajubutu and wide receiver Paris Warren.
The Buccaneers are also eagerly awaiting the returns of running back Michael Pittman, cornerback Brian Kelly, tight end Alex Smith, wide receiver Michael Clayton and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah that have kept them out of at least one game each.
The loss of Cox is another blow to the Bucs' kicking units, which expected last year's Pro Bowl alternate special-teamer to be a core player in that phase of the game. Cash, Jones, and Piscitelli were also considered key members of the special teams units.
The Bucs didn't immediately replace Cox's spot on the 53-man roster. However, they did bring back Gessner to replace Lucas, who played in his first regular-season game as a Buccaneer on Sunday. Lucas returned two kickoffs for 35 yards against the Jaguars; he had spent most of the season on the Bucs' practice squad.
Gessner turned in a strong training camp performance with the Buccaneers for the second straight year this summer, but he sustained a wrist injury in the preseason finale and was waived with an injury settlement on September 1. Because he received that form of release, Gessner could sign elsewhere in the league at any time but was not free to re-sign with the Buccaneers until eight weeks had passed. That prohibition just expired this Monday.
The 6-5, 215-pound Gessner has surprising downfield abilities despite his size. He spent all of last season on Tampa Bay's practice squad, so he is quite familiar with the team's offensive schemes.
Gessner first entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Brown with the New England Patriots in 2003. He made a brief appearance on the Patriots' active roster in his rookie campaign but finished the year on the practice squad. He played in the NFL Europe League the following spring and made the all-league team with 38 receptions for 556 yards and six touchdowns. Gessner also had a short stint on the New York Jets' practice squad in 2005 before signing with Tampa Bay in January of 2006.
At Brown, Gessner was a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the nation's top I-AA player. His 292 career receptions rank second in Ivy League history. Assuming he remains on the roster through the weekend, Gessner will become the first player from Brown ever to suit up for the Buccaneers.
Hunter, a 5-11, 211-pound cornerback out of Miami of Ohio played in three late-season games as a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals last year. He originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent and spent the first 12 weeks of the 2006 season on the Cardinals' practice squad. After his promotion in December, Hunter recorded one tackle each on defense and special teams.
Hunter went to training camp with the Cardinals again this summer but was released during the final cut-down. As a collegian, he started his last 38 games and was a first-team all-conference choice after his senior season. Hunter is also a former high school track champion who was clocked with the fastest 40-yard dash time in Redhawk football history.
Hamilton, a 6-4, 207-pound receiver out of Clemson, just signed with the Bucs' practice squad last week.