The loss of RB Rabih Abdullah affects Tampa Bay's special teams
Every Monday after Head Coach Tony Dungy concludes his 12:30 press conference, he and the team's coaching staff and personnel department convene for a meeting to discuss the state of the roster. Though these meetings are restricted to those team insiders, one could easily surmise today's hot topic. With an apparent season-ending injury to RB Rabih Abdullah, there is likely to be a roster change as the team heads into the postseason.
Abdullah, Tampa Bay's lone backup at tailback behind Warrick Dunn, suffered a fractured right thumb while aiding in a tackle of Green Bay return man Charles Jordan late in Sunday's 29-10 Buccaneer victory. The Buccaneers' training room, which is not open to the media, reports that Abdullah suffered a fractured dislocation of the thumb, or what is known as a 'Bennett's Fracture.' The injury is probably serious enough to require surgery and Abdullah will most likely be placed on injured reserve.
"We're actually in pretty good shape," said Dungy, "but we had one tough one yesterday. Rabih ended up breaking his thumb…so we're probably going to make a roster move. We're evaluating that now, what we're going to do, because I think he's going to miss the rest of the season."
That would open up a spot on the team's 53-man roster as the regular season comes down to its final week. Though Abdullah has seen only limited action at running back this season, he has emerged as a very effective member of the Bucs' special teams units. Dungy indicated on Monday that Abdullah's replacement would not necessarily be a running back, depending on the team's special teams needs, but the Bucs will begin searching for a replacement runner on Tuesday.
"We will bring in three or four running-back types tomorrow for workouts," said Tampa Bay General Manager Rich McKay. "That's the traditional workout day. If Rabih goes on injured reserve, we will make a decision on one of those players tomorrow night."
There is one running back currently on the Bucs' five-man practice squad: rookie Aaron Stecker, a Green Bay native who played at Western Illinois. The rest of the squad consists of two offensive linemen, T DeMarcus Curry and C Eric DeGroh, a cornerback in his second year with the Bucs, Cedric Donaldson, and a rookie receiver, Drew O'Connor.
The only other injury concern specifically mentioned by Dungy on Monday was DT Brad Culpepper. Recognized as a key element in the Buccaneers' second-ranked defense, Culpepper aggravated his right heel injury against the Packers, although he did return to the game after a brief visit to the locker room to change cleats. Culpepper originally suffered the injury in Tampa Bay's November 21 win over Atlanta and was hobbled for the early part of the week before the Bucs' November 28 game at Seattle. Though he started that week off on crutches, he was in practice by Wednesday; the Buccaneers' training room indicates that Culpepper is probably farther along this week than he was before the Seahawks game.