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Mason Foster injury: Dislocated shoulder, out for several weeks?

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is an injury-depleted mess, and it only seems to be getting worse.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Update: David Chao, MD, former team doctor for the San Diego Chargers, notes that a linebacker could play through a shoulder dislocation with a brace, delaying the surgery to the offseason.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to be without their starting middle linebacker for a significant amount of time, as Mason Foster suffered a dislocated shoulder, according to Adam Caplan. The normal recovery time for such an injury is four to twelve weeks, depending on the exactly severity of the injury, according to Michael Gleiber, MD. Matthew Matava, MDD claims that most athletes should be able to return to play within six weeks of suffering the injury.

The exact severity of an injury like this is difficult to know, as a dislocated shoulder can vary heavily in severity. For instance, Christian Ponder missed all of the final season after suffering a shoulder dislocating during week 10 last year but was able to return to play just 10 days later. On the flip side, it cost linebacker Tavares Gooden an entire season in college.

If the Bucs are to miss Foster for any length time, and it seems almost impossible that he'll suit up on Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons, that's another big blow to an already injury-depleted defense which is missing starters Mike Jenkins and Adrian Clayborn (injured reserve), Gerald McCoy (broken hand, indeterminate time out) and Michael Johnson (ankle, might be able to play on

Dane Fletcher is likely to replace Foster at middle linebacker, as he did against the St. Louis Rams. Fletcher has experience as a spot starter and significant sub-package player for the New England Patriots, so while there will be a dropoff, it need not be disastrous.