WR Karl Williams had to be helped off the field on a cart Sunday after sustaining a severe hip pointer
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' receiving corps took another hit Sunday when sixth-year veteran Karl Williams suffered a hip injury while trying to field a punt late in the first half. Williams, who has missed exactly three games in each of the last three seasons due to injuries or family emergency, may see that unfortunate streak extended into 2001.
"Health-wise, I think we're going to be pretty good except for Karl Williams," said Bucs Head Coach Tony Dungy on Monday. "Karl's got a severe hip pointer and will probably be out a week or two."
A 'hip pointer' is basically a bruise, but a rather serious one in Williams' case. Tampa Bay's training staff indicated that it could be as much as three weeks before the team's all-time leading punt returner is able to play again. Against Chicago on Sunday, he had been on his way to a big day before the injury, catching three first-half passes for 34 yards and returning four punts for 20 yards. Williams had started the game and received more playing time because usual starter Jacquez Green was hurt and substitute Reidel Anthony had missed most of the practice week due to a family emergency.
Though the team will miss Williams, the impact of the injury could be minimized if Green is able to return from the abdominal strain that has kept him out of the last four contests. Green has attempted to practice in each of the past two weeks but has not gotten far before the injury flared up again. Dungy believes he may be closer to a full recovery this week.
We hope so," said the coach. "We hope to get him into practice full go and he should hopefully be back to help us."
In the past, Green was also one of the team's main punt return options when Williams was not available. Against Chicago, Anthony handled those duties, running back two punts for seven yards, but those were the first punt returns of his five-year NFL career. Anthony is, however, the Bucs' all-time leader in kickoff return yardage.
The Bucs' injury situation did not take a drastic turn for the worse against Chicago. Running back Rabih Abdullah and linebacker Jamie Duncan were the only two new additions to the infirmary list, other than Williams, at the end of the contest.
Abdullah suffered a first-half concussion, and it generally takes several days to determine how much the player will be affected in the coming week by such an injury.
Duncan sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, an injury that punter Mark Royals and defensive tackles James Cannida and Anthony McFarland have all dealt with this season. Due to differing degrees of the sprains, Cannida missed six weeks, Royals missed five and McFarland missed two. Duncan's injury is considered even less severe than McFarland's and he has not even been ruled out for next Sunday's game in Chicago. The team is reserving judgment on whether or not Duncan will be able to practice later in the week.
Running back Warrick Dunn had some pain in his injured right foot after Sunday's game, but that is almost expected by now. Dunn has suggested that the injury will not completely heal until he gets a month or two of inactivity, and that he will experience discomfort throughout the season.
"When it gets hit the right way, it's painful," said Dungy. "He seems to start the games okay, but you just never know how you're going to go through the game and how it's going to be hit. I'm sure it is painful and he's not quite 100 percent."
The Bucs' first official injury report of the week will be released on Wednesday.