S Jermaine Phillips delivered several hard hits among his 71 tackles in nine games before suffering an arm injury
For more than a month, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jermaine Phillips have held out hope that the injured safety could return to the field this season. However, with the remaining season now almost certainly down to just two games, that plan has been shelved. On Wednesday, Phillips was placed on injured reserve.
The Bucs actually made a series of roster moves on Wednesday. To fill Phillips's spot on the 53-man roster, the team signed second-year defensive end Bryant McNeal off the Denver Broncos practice squad. Also, defensive back Kalvin Pearson returned to the practice squad and defensive end Corey Smith was released from that eight-man crew.
Phillips, who suffered a right forearm fracture and subsequently had surgery following the Nov. 14 game at Atlanta, becomes the fourth Buccaneer starter to end up on injured reserve. He joins defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, running back Charlie Garner and center John Wade. In addition, nine other players have hit injured reserve this season, though several were subsequently released, and Joe Jurevicius and Matt O'Dwyer spent the first half of the year on separate reserve lists.
Phillips started the first nine games of the season before being sidelined by the injury and accumulated 71 tackles, one sack, one interception and five passes defensed. He has been one of the team's eight game-day inactives for the past five games.
The 6-4, 248-pound McNeal has spent the balance of his second NFL season on Denver's practice squad. A fourth-round draft pick by the Broncos in 2003, he spent his rookie campaign on injured reserve due to a lower-back injury.
At Clemson, McNeal was one of the best pass-rushers in the ACC, racking up 21 sacks and 46 QB pressures in 48 career games (25 starts). He was a second-team all-conference choice as a senior after recording eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He hails from Swansea, South Carolina.
Pearson spent one other week on the Bucs' practice squad, signing on December 8 before being released on December 15. He went to training camp with the Buccaneers this past summer and recorded three tackles and two passes defensed during the preseason. Pearson played in five games with the Cleveland Browns in 2002, contributing seven tackles and two special teams stops, then spent the final 11 weeks of that season on the team's practice squad. He originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Browns in 2002.
Smith bounced between the Bucs' practice squad and active roster for much of 2004. He spent the first six weeks of the season on the practice squad, then moved to the 53-man crew before the Oct. 24 game against Chicago. Smith was active for four games, contributing three tackles, then inactive for the next three before being waived and added back to the practice squad last week.