S Jermaine Phillips has dealt with forearm fractures in the past but his latest break is in a new spot
It's another tough break for eighth-year safety Jermaine Phillips.
Phillips, who endured two forearm fractures last season and had a similar injury in 2004, sustained a broken left thumb during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 33-20 loss at Buffalo on Sunday. On Monday, Head Coach Raheem Morris said that Phillips' injury was the top concern among a handful of players who finished Sunday's game with fresh ailments.
"He's got to consult with our doctors again this morning," said Morris at his day-after-game press conference. "I just don't have a feel for what it is and how bad it is. I'll see when I talk to Flip this morning after he talks to the doctors. Jermaine's broken his arms [before] and it's a little different deal. We've got to figure it out. You've got to see the doctors. I don't know to what extent it is."
Phillips is a steady and proven veteran on a defense that is trying to incorporate a number of young players into the starting lineup. He was actually slated to play weakside linebacker when training camp began, after spending the entire 2009 offseason making the transition to that position. However, after starting free safety Tanard Jackson drew a four-game suspension from the NFL to open the regular season, Phillips moved back to his natural position and assumed Jackson's starting spot.
It hadn't yet been decided if Phillips would move back to linebacker when Jackson returned and gave the Bucs their expected three-man safety rotation with Jackson, Sabby Piscitelli and Will Allen, but that issue may now be moot. If Phillips has to miss a significant amount of time it will be the latest in a series of costly injury blows to the Buccaneers' lineup.
Josh Bidwell was lost to injured reserve during training camp due to a hip injury, robbing the Bucs of one of the best punters in the league. Since the season began, the Bucs have seen center Jeff Faine (triceps) and wide receiver Antonio Bryant (knee) sidelined by injuries, though neither had to go to I.R. Morris said on Monday that Faine will definitely miss a second consecutive game next Sunday, and Bryant's knee, which required arthroscopic surgery in early August, is defying an exact prognosis.
"Antonio is a day-to-day deal," said Morris. Antonio wouldn't shock me if he played this week. I don't know, it wouldn't shock me if I had to go without him. That's not my issue. I look to my doctors. I'll let Antonio talk with the doctors about that."
And in the defensive backfield, the Bucs' depth was already thinned when rookie cornerback E.J. Biggers was moved to injured reserve on Saturday due to a shoulder ailment. Cornerback Elbert Mack (shoulder) missed a good portion of Sunday's game, too, though Morris did not elaborate on the severity of Mack's injury. If both Mack and Phillips prove unable to play against the New York Giants in Week Three, the Bucs would have (barring any additional roster moves) just two defensive back reserves: cornerback Torrie Cox and recently-signed safety Steve Cargile.
The Bucs have also played the first two games of the season without John Gilmore, their best blocking tight end. The team has been able to get very good production out of their other two tight ends, however, as Kellen Winslow and Jerramy Stevens have combined for 19 catches, 185 yards and three touchdowns. Gilmore is attempting to return from an ankle injury that has limited him since midway through the preseason.
Two other Bucs finished Sunday's game with injuries worth noting, though both were on the field in the fourth quarter. Rookie defensive tackle Roy Miller hurt an ankle but continued to play on it. Wide receiver Maurice Stovall sustained a knee injury while catching three passes for a career-high 80 yards.