ACL injury puts Bucs' Vincent Jackson on injured reserve
TAMPA – Vincent Jackson was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after an MRI revealed he suffered an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the Bucs' 17-14 win at Carolina on Oct. 10.
Depending on his rehabilitation, Jackson could be the Bucs player designated for return from IR. But it calls into question whether he has played his last snap in Tampa Bay or in the NFL, for that matter.
Not only is Jackson in the final year of his contract which will pay him $9.77 million this season, he missed six games with a pair of knee injuries in 2015.
Jackson, 33, played the entire game at Carolina and had three receptions for 36 yards. But he was evaluated after complaining of discomfort in the knee following the game.
“This is obviously very disappointing for me personally,’’ Jackson said in a statement released by the team. “I had high hopes for this season because I know what we are capable of accomplishing as a team. My top priority going into every season is being out there with my teammates and helping my team any way possible.
"While I may not be on the field for the foreseeable future, I will be focused on beginning my rehab as soon as possible and finding ways to support my teammates in whatever way I can.”
Jackson was off to a slow start with only 15 receptions for 173 yards and no touchdowns in five games. But he has been one of the most productive free agents the Bucs ever signed. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Jackson joined the team in 2012 and recorded 268 receptions for 4,326 yards (16.1 avg.) with 20 touchdowns.
Moreover, the Bucs came to rely on Jackson’s leadership and immense intangibles as a team captain. During his time with in Tampa Bay, he endured three coaching changes, from Greg Schiano to Lovie Smith to Dirk Koetter and never experienced a winning season.
“Any time you lose a player and team leader of Vincent’s caliber, it is a setback for your team,’’ Koetter said in a statement. “Vincent is a very tough-minded player and a great competitor. Even though he doesn’t recall when he injured his knee, he was still out there the entire game and made two crucial catches on our final drive to set up the game-winning field goal.
"I know that being placed on injured reserve is difficult for him, but I also know he will maintain a strong presence in our locker room and will help our younger guys prepare and develop because that’s the type of team-first leader he is.”
The Bucs did not make a corresponding move to fill Jackson’s roster spot Tuesday. They have some receivers to choose from. Louis Murphy practiced for the first time Monday since being placed on the physically unable to perform list recovering from a torn ACL, but it could be another week or so before he’s game ready.
Receiver Cecil Shorts also practiced for the first time in four weeks since suffering a hamstring injury. Donteea Dye and Freddie Martino were added to the practice squad.
Dye was waived injury in Aug. with a hamstring strain. He caught 11 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown last season.
Regardless of his football future, Jackson has vowed to make Tampa Bay his home. An Army brat, the JacksonInAction83 Foundation benefits the families of servicemen and women. He also owns Cask Social, a popular restaurant in south Tampa.