G Matt Stinchcomb started 16 games for the Bucs last season but has been sidelined by a back ailment since early August
The 2005 season started off well for Matt Stinchcomb, but it has ended early due to a lower back ailment that surfaced in training camp. Stinchcomb was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, and first-year center Scott Jackson was signed off the practice squad to take his place.
Stinchcomb, the seventh-year veteran who started all 16 games at left guard in 2004, performed well during the first two weeks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp this summer but got into only one of the four preseason games after his back issue flared up. Even after missing the first three preseason games and starting the last one, he was considered to be in a tight competition with rookie Dan Buenning for the starting left guard spot this year.
However, Stinchcomb's back never improved after that preseason finale against Houston on September 1, and he was deactivated for each of the first four regular-season games while Buenning became entrenched in the starting role.
"It's a credit to Matt – he tried and tried but the back is not coming around," said Head Coach Jon Gruden.
Stinchcomb has played in 70 games and started 36 since being drafted in the first round by Gruden's Oakland Raiders in 1999. He has started at guard, center and tackle and was a reserve in Super Bowl XXXVII against the Buccaneers.
Jackson also had a strong training camp that was interrupted by injury. The former undrafted free agent out of BYU sustained a broken hand on August 2 but was back in light action a few days later and was handling contact, albeit while wearing a bulky cast, by August 9. He played in all four preseason games and consistently drew Gruden's praise for his gutsy performances.
The 6-4, 300-pound Jackson first joined the Bucs a day after the 2004 draft. He spent his entire rookie season on Tampa Bay's practice squad and was then re-signed by the team in January. This summer, he was waived on the final cut-down day and once again added to the practice squad.
Jackson's promotion opened up a spot on the Bucs' eight-man practice squad, and they quickly filled it with another offensive lineman, rookie tackle Stefan Rodgers.
The 6-4, 305-pound Rodgers entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans this past April; the Titans released him on August 25. Rodgers played his college ball at Lambuth, an NAIA school in Jackson, Tennessee, starting for two years at tight end before moving to tackle as a senior.