The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to finish the season without wide receiver Louis Murphy, who tore his ACL on a 29-yard catch against Washington yesterday. That, at least, is what the receiver told ESPN's Josina Anderson, though early speculation pointed in that direction as well, and Pewter Report first reported today that the Bucs "feared" the same injury.
With Murphy out and Vincent Jackson suffering an undisclosed knee injury yesterday, the Bucs currently have just three healthy receivers on the roster in Mike Evans, Russell Shepard and Donteea Dye. The latter played 75% of the snaps yesterday, thanks to injuries to Murphy and Jackson, while Shepard wasn't healthy enough to go either. Dye is an undrafted rookie, while Shepard is a career special teamer who has looked okay as a third receiver when asked to play that role.
The Bucs could also call up undrafted rookies Rannell Hall, Adam Humphries or Evan Spencer from the practice squad. Hall looked good in training camp as a receiver with decent size and speed, while Spencer is a similar player who spent the offseason with Washington. Humphries is more of an undersized slot receiver who underwhelmed when given some snaps earlier this season.
In all, though, the Bucs have not run a lot of spread looks this season, preferring to work with tight end-heavy formations to help the running game. Losing Murphy may not hurt the offense as much as it would more pass-heavy teams.
Whether Murphy can return next season remains to be seen. While ACL injuries are not as devastating as they used to be, rehab is likely to take up most of his offseason and even minor setbacks would likely keep him out of training camp. Recovery usually takes six to nine months.