The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have faced quite a few injuries this season, and it got truly ludicrous today. They’d been forced to rule out four players due to injury, three of them starters, and then lost another four (!) starters during the course of the game.
Star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was the first to leave with a calf injury, soon followed by tight end Brandon Myers, who was himself filling in for the injured Luke Stocker. Then defensive end Noah Spence had to leave with a shoulder injury, and Spence himself was filling in for Jacquies Smith, who tore his ACL in week one.
Finally, and most ridiculously, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald injured himself during warmups (!!) following the second (!!!) lightning delay in two weeks. Update: McDonald told Greg Auman that he had “full-body cramps” and should be fine.
And all of that was during the game. Starting defensive end Robert Ayers had already been ruled out for the game, meaning the Bucs finished the game with four different defensive linemen than they’d started the season with. In addition to Ayers and Stocker, the Bucs were also missing running back Doug Martin — you’d almost forget about last year’s second-leading rusher in the NFL — and backup receiver Cecil Shorts.
And all of that started in the offseason. Prize free agent signing J.R. Sweezy never even practiced with the team thanks to a back injury he still hasn’t recovered from. He’s expected to be back in week seven. There’s also backup receiver Louis Murphy, who tore an ACL last year and whose recovery timeline is entirely unclear.
So let’s recap all those injuries.
- Starting left guard J.R. Sweezy, all year so far (expected back week seven).
- Backup receiver Louis Murphy, all year so far.
- Pass-rush specialist Jacquies Smith, torn ACL week one, injured reserve.
- Star running back Doug Martin, hamstring injury week two, expected back week seven.
- Prize free-agent defensive end Robert Ayers, ankle injury week two, out until ??
- Tight end Luke Stocker, ankle injury week two, out until ??
- Backup receiver Cecil Shorts, hamstring injury, out until ??
- Star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, calf injury today, out until ??
- Pass-rush specialist Noah Spence, shoulder injury today, out until ??
- Tight end Brandon Myers, hip injury today, out until ??
- Starting defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, leg injury today, out until?? (update: should not miss any games)
That is six players who would be starting if the team were entirely healthy, three players who start in case of injury and would have played significant roles on healthy teams, and a couple of backups. And we’re not even counting Austin Seferian-Jenkins getting cut because of a DUI.
The only good news in this really depressing list is the fact that most of these injuries are not season-ending, or at least don’t appear to be. At some point, most of these players will be back. And who knows, maybe that will be enough to make the Bucs good, or at least competitive.