S Jermaine Phillips won't be on the roster when the Buccaneers face the Giants again, as he landed on injured reserve on Tuesday
Jermaine Phillips began the preseason as the starter at weakside linebacker, and he began the regular season as the starter at free safety. As it turns out, however, Phillips won't be playing at any position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the rest of the 2009 campaign.
Phillips was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday as a result of the left thumb fracture he sustained in Sunday's Week Two game at Buffalo. The Buccaneers, who have been stung by a growing list of injuries in recent weeks, lose an extremely versatile performer who brought a hard-hitting and experienced influence to a defense filled with many young starters.
The Buccaneers also released safety Steve Cargile on Tuesday. Cargile, who was also briefly with the team during the preseason, re-signed on Saturday and played briefly in the Buffalo game.
The moves leave the Buccaneers with two open spots on the 53-man roster that were not immediately filled.
This marks the second year in a row and the third since 2004 that Phillips has finished on injured reserve, though in the previous cases his injuries occurred later in the season. Phillips missed the last three games of 2008 and five overall with a pair of forearm fractures and the end of the '04 campaign with a similar injury.
Phillips has been one of the Bucs' most productive players when healthy. He played in and started 55 games from 2005-08 and during that span contributed 415 tackles, nine interceptions, 26 passes defensed, two sacks and seven forced fumbles. He has started at both safety positions and, during the 2009 offseason, worked on what appeared to be a successful conversion to linebacker. The Buccaneers only moved Phillips back to safety when Tanard Jackson was handed a four-game suspension to start the season.
Phillips return to the safety position helped shore up the depth at that spot, but it is in question again after his unfortunate break. Will Allen and Sabby Piscitelli are currently the only remaining safeties on the roster.
Phillips is the seventh Buccaneer player to be moved to injured reserve already in 2009, including the second defensive back in the last four days. The team placed rookie cornerback E.J. Biggers on I.R. on Saturday due to a shoulder ailment.