More than a dozen players left Sunday's game with new injuries, including S Dexter Jackson and LB Alshermond Singleton
During a 41-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got significant contributions from some new sources. For every familiar Mike Alstott touchdown run there was a big Aaron Stecker reception; for every tackle Derrick Brooks made, James Cannida came up with a critical or Brian Kelly rushed in for a sack.
The Bucs explored the full depth of their 53-man roster on Sunday, and you may need to get used to that approach. If the expanded roles of Alstott and Reidel Anthony, to name a few, were the results of injuries to other key players, then more and more new faces may be popping up in prominent roles in the coming weeks.
That's because it's standing room only in the Bucs' training room after a physical game against the Vikings. The team's preliminary injury report, a list that Head Trainer Todd Toriscelli compiles for Head Coach Tony Dungy every Monday, is 17 players long, easily the most extensive in recent memory.
The list started with players who were already out for the Vikings game – RB Warrick Dunn, WR Jacquez Green and LB Jeff Gooch – but was fleshed out on Sunday with more than a dozen new injuries, some of them severe enough to lead to missed games.
Dungy touched on a few of the new injuries during his Monday press conference, starting with WR Keyshawn Johnson, who added a knee sprain and contusion to the numerous leg ailments he has already fought through this season.
"We've got a few guys that are banged up and right now you'd have to list them as questionable," he said. "Keyshawn has a bone bruise right on the knee. He's got great recuperative powers. It's going to be touch-and-go whether he'll go (against Green Bay), but he seems to line up for us every week, so we're hoping he'll be able to.
"Anthony McFarland has and MCL strain similar to what Mike Alstott had last year, not as serious but he's probably going to be out a couple weeks.
"Other new injuries: Eric Vance had a low back strain and may be out this week; Nate Webster got a shoulder injury in the game and he's going to be touch-and-go; and Marcus Jones has a left elbow sprain that we're getting an MRI on, trying to see exactly what the problem is there. Those guys may or may not play this week."
That's a sobering way to start, with the team's leading receiver (Johnson), two leading sackers (McFarland and Jones) and one of its best special teamers (Vance). The entire list follows, with players and injuries listed, but no official word yet on what time each will miss, if any.
|WR||Reidel Anthony||Right Hip Flexor Strain|
|CB||Ronde Barber||Left Hamstring Strain|
|LB||Derrick Brooks||Left Foot Sprain|
|RB||Warrick Dunn||Right Hamstring Strain|
|WR||Jacquez Green||Left Groin/Abdomen Strain|
|LB||Jeff Gooch||Left Shoulder Sprain|
|S||Dexter Jackson||Left Quad Contusion|
|WR||Keyshawn Johnson||Right Knee Sprain/Contusion|
|DE||Marcus Jones||Left Elbow Sprain|
|S||John Lynch||Low Back Contusion|
|DT||Anthony McFarland||Right Knee Sprain|
|LB||Alshermond Singleton||Right Knee Sprain|
|S||Eric Vance||Low Back Contusion|
|LB||Nate Webster||Right Shoulder Sprain|
|WR||Karl Williams||Low Back Contusion|
|T||Jerry Wunsch||Right Elbow Sprain|
If that's just too much to take in and you'd like to prioritize a little, there are some players whose injuries appear to be more significant concerns, at least on Monday. The team will not produce an official injury report until Wednesday, by which time some of the above players may have seen the full benefits of rest and treatment.
Still, if the team had to play a game on Monday, the starting receivers would probably be Frank Murphy and Milton Wynn. There would also be obvious depth concerns at safety and linebacker.
According to the Bucs' training room, the players who may not be able to practice on Wednesday are: Johnson, McFarland, Brooks, Dunn, Anthony, Vance, Barber, Webster, Jones, Gooch and Green.
The team hopes that several of those players will be back in practice before the end of the week, including Johnson, who still leads the NFC with 46 receptions despite missing all of the second half of Sunday's game. An X-ray of Johnson's knee at the stadium proved negative for any break on Sunday and an MRI exam on Monday yielded the same results in terms of any substantial ligament damage. At the moment, the team is working on getting the swelling out of the joint to allow the receiver full range of motion.
As for Dunn and Green, they will have to prove they're a little farther along than they were last week to get back into the game plan for Sunday.
"We're going to try to get them running this week and see if they can go," said Dungy of those two offensive starters. "I think Warrick may be a little closer than 'Quez, but hopefully we'll have them both by the end of the week."
LB Nate Webster proved his toughness by continuing to play on Sunday despite experiencing three separate shoulder subluxations. A subluxation is similar to a dislocation, except that the bone immediately pops back into the joint after popping out. Whether he's tough enough to play just seven days after that event remains to be seen.
Expect McFarland to miss the game in Green Bay, and the same may be true of Vance, who was checked out after the game for a possible fracture in his lower back. Fortunately, no new breaks were found, but he is still likely to miss at least a game. McFarland may miss two.
Again, such developments simply mean that the Bucs will need another full-team effort in Green Bay, with previously lower-profile players stepping to the fore. The Bucs' all-first-round-pick defensive line may have a few new faces on Sunday, but Dungy expects the unit to maintain a high level of play.
"It would have the same impact that having Warrick and Jacquez Green out had," said Dungy of the possible absence of both McFarland and Jones. "Other guys have to come in and step up. It would be more playing time for Steve White, Ellis Wyms and Chuck Darby. Those guys played a lot in the game and played well. They may have to start and if they do we expect them to play well."