Bucs facing major injury issues at defensive line, RB
Lingering injuries at running back and defensive line have the Bucs facing significant depth concerns entering Monday's game at Carolina, perhaps necessitating more roster moves just to add healthy backups.
DT Clinton McDonald, listed as being limited Thursday with a hamstring injury, was held out of Friday's practice entirely, meaning the Bucs are likely without both of their starting defensive tackles, with Gerald McCoy still sidelined with a calf injury. At defensive end, starter Robert Ayers, who practiced in a limited capacity Thursday for the first time in nearly three weeks, was held out Friday with his ankle injury, and rookie Noah Spence remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
That means the Bucs could have only one of their top five defensive linemen -- end Will Gholston -- and would have only six healthy defensive linemen, including two undrafted rookies (DaVonte Lambert and Channing Ward) and a player signed just this week in DT John Hughes. That would likely force the Bucs to promote a defensive lineman from the practice squad -- either DE Ryan Russell or DT Rodney Coe -- just to have seven dressed on game day.
At running back, the situation is no better, with starter Doug Martin expected to miss a third straight game with a hamstring injury, and his replacement, Charles Sims, held out of practice again Friday with a knee injury. That leaves Jacquizz Rodgers -- signed off the street in Week 2 as a free agent -- and rookie Peyton Barber, who hasn't taken an offensive snap in the first four games. The Bucs would likely have to promote rookie Russell Hansbrough, who was just signed to the practice squad Wednesday, as a third healthy running back.
Adding to the trouble, the Bucs listed starting CB Brent Grimes as having "limited participation" Friday due to a hamstring injury, with backup center Evan Smith also limited with a back injury. The Bucs can only have seven players inactive on Monday, and could have more than seven players out with injuries, impacting their depth.
The Bucs did get S Keith Tandy, who had been held out of Thursday's drills with a calf injury, back at practice, providing key depth as the team's third safety. WR Cecil Shorts also remains out with a hamstring injury and will miss a third straight game Monday.