Well, that sucks. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they’ve placed defensive end Noah Spence on injured reserve. The second-year player had one sack and one forced fumble this year, and has played through a shoulder injury in recent weeks.
Spence was the Bucs’ main edge-rushing threat going into the season, and has flashed repeatedly though the production hasn’t quite been there. With Spence out and Jacquies Smith released after one week, the Bucs have no real speed-rushers on the roster. Robert Ayers is their most effective edge rusher right now.
Spence was the Bucs’ second-round pick last year, and had a promising if not overly productive rookie season. The team hoped he’d take the next step this year and he certainly looked more effective, but the shoulder injury (which is the same he suffered last year) hampered him and has now ended his season for now.
The Bucs did sign veteran defensive end Darryl Tapp to replace Spence, but Tapp has averaged all of two sacks per season in his career. The team also signed cornerback Deji Olatoye, which presumably means Robert McClain is unlikely to play on Sunday, which is yet another blow to an already struggling defensive unit.
Spence could return this year, after eight weeks on injured reserve. That’d give him two games of production, if the Bucs decided to bring him back then.