Jones out for season
Jones was taken from the field on a cart after injuring his left knee during a first-quarter kickoff Sunday against Detroit. Gruden said he believed Jones tore the patellar tendon, similar to the injury that ended running back Cadillac Williams' season.
"It's unfortunate,'' Gruden said. "He was one of the top return specialists in football.''
The Bucs could turn to a rotation of Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard and Torrie Cox to return kickoffs and punts or "consider a couple other candidates,'' Gruden said.
There was less certainty about the ankle injury wide receiver Michael Clayton sustained when his right leg was bent back awkwardly after a 20-yard reception during the first quarter. Clayton will have an MRI today, Gruden said.
The Bucs have lost three running backs (Williams, Michael Pittman and Mike Alstott) and three receivers (including Paris Warren) to injuries this season.
"Our depth right now will be stressed,'' Gruden said. "We'll have a couple guys we'll look at, for sure.''
Cornerback Brian Kelly's injured groin is feeling better, but Gruden called him "still very questionable'' for this weekend's game against Jacksonville. The same goes for tight end Alex Smith (ankle) and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah (shoulder).
"We've got to overcome some dramatic losses to our football team,'' Gruden said, "but we're confident we can do that.''
(Times photo - James Borchuck. Click to enlarge.)