Bucs DE Clayborn out for the season with torn knee ligaments
Just as they were beginning to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the Bucs learned Monday they will be without defensive end Adrian Clayborn for the rest of the season.
Clayborn suffered torn ligaments in his right knee, coach Greg Schiano confirmed Monday, and will require surgery in a few weeks. He was injured early in the fourth quarter of the Bucs' 16-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
"Unfortunately, it's not a good one. Adrian is going to have to have surgery, so he's done for the season,'' Schiano said during his Monday news conference. "You know, it'll probably be a couple weeks before it happens that he has it. Certainly, it's unfortunate for him and the team.
"It's a knee. I don't know exactly what it is. It's one of those three-letters deals. It may be more than one. I got to see. They're not sure yet.''
Clayborn is the second starting defensive end to suffer a serious injury this year. Second-year pro Da'Quan Bowers suffered a torn Achilles while training in the off-season and is eligible to come off the reserve Physically Unable to Perform list after Week 6.
In the meantime, Schiano said the Bucs will look at options for replacing Clayborn which could include using more three-man fronts with linebacker Dekoda Watson or utilizing backup defensive ends George Johnson and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.
"Right now, we're working on that,'' Schiano said. "You know we've lost two guys at the position since (May). So we'll look at everything. We'll look internally. We'll look outside if anything is better. We'll look at schematically. Maybe we'll have to play some more three-down fronts and do some different things to stretch the personnel a little bit. Nothing is out of the realm. Look, that's what you do. You adapt and that's what we'll do.''
Schiano said the Bucs will even consider moving left defensive end Michael Bennett to the right side if necessary.
"Anything is fair game right now. I don't know where it will end up,'' Schiano said. "We're spending a fair amount of time talking about it and we'll make what we think is the best decision.''
Clayborn led the Bucs in sacks as a rookie with 7.5. His injury comes just as the Bucs pass rush, which ranked last in the NFL the past two seasons with 23 and 26, respectively, was showing signs of life. On Sunday, the Bucs sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo four times, two each by Bennett and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, with each forcing fumbles.
"I look around the league and a lot of people have issues,'' Schiano said. "I mean, the team we're playing this week (the Redskins), have similar issues on the front. Look, it's part of life in the NFL. It's a bad part. And unfortunately, it's people's lives you're talking about, the guys you get injured. It's something you know going in and you have to have plans in place and that's what we have to do.''