Vincent Jackson has sprained his MCL and will miss "several games," Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. His "availability depends on when 2015 ends," which implies that unless the Bucs make it to the playoffs, we've seen the last of Jackson this season.
That's a big blow to a Bucs offense that has struggled to attack defenses when Jackson is not on the field. That was obvious on Sunday, when despite playing the worst defense in the league, the Bucs attempted just one deep pass after Jackson left 14 plays into the game.
The Bucs will turn to undrafted rookies Donteea Dye and Adam Humphries to replace Jackson over the final three weeks of the season. They could have signed Rannell Hall to the roster, but he was just picked up off their practice squad by the Cleveland Browns.
Earlier this year, Jackson also missed three games with a knee injury and he's been limited in practice with knee issues for several weeks as well. In all, he's only topped 100 receiving yards once this year, racking up a total of just 543 yards and three touchdowns on 33 catches in ten games -- his worst statistical year since 2006. That, the injury issues and the fact that he's due to make nearly $10 million next year could put his 2016 roster spot in danger.
For now, though, the Bucs are going to have to rely on Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to carry the load. Expect both to get a hefty amount of targets: in the three games Jackson missed, Evans saw a whopping 41 targets, catching 19 passes for 324 yards and drawing a couple of crucial pass interference calls. Seferian-Jenkins was out at the time as well, but he's finally healthy and seeing his playing time increase every week.