Koetter: RB Antone Smith, DE Howard Jones done for season
The Bucs' injury problems this season have been concentrated at two positions -- running back and defensive end -- and that continued Thursday as RB Antone Smith and DE Howard Jones suffered season-ending knee injuries in the loss to the Falcons, coach Dirk Koetter said.
Both were on crutches in the locker room after the game, and the Bucs have already exhausted their depth at both positions but will have to add new players over the weekend as they prepare for next Sunday's home game against the Bears.
"Unfortunately, Antone suffered a significant injury, and I think that will probably be a season-ending injury, it looks like, and it will be the same for Howard Jones," Koetter said.
Smith, who rushed five times for 25 yards and caught three passes for 27 yards Thursday, is the fourth Bucs running back to go down with an injury. Doug Martin has been out since Week 2 with a hamstring, Charles Sims was placed on injured reserve after injuring his knee in Week 4, and Jacquizz Rodgers hurt his foot in Week 8; all three missed Thursday's game. The Bucs could promote RB Russell Hansbrough from the practice squad, but could also seek a more experienced replacement from elsewhere.
Jones, who had five sacks last season, hadn't found the same success as a backup pass-rusher, with just one tackle on defense and two on special teams this season. The Bucs already have DEs George Johnson (hip) and Jacquies Smith (knee) on injured reserve, with Robert Ayers missing four games with an ankle injury as well.
Koetter said that both WR Mike Evans and G Kevin Pamphile were placed in concussion protocol after the game, but said Evans has made enough progress he expects him to practice Monday when the team gets back to work; Pamphile isn't as far along in his recovery. Koetter said he doesn't expect other injuries -- QB Jameis Winston's knee, C Joe Hawley's knee or LB Kwon Alexander's shoulder/stinger to impact next week's game.
Koetter said he didn't know how the Bucs will handle WR Louis Murphy, whose 21-day window coming off the physically unable to perform list ends Monday. From there, the Bucs must either activate him to the 53-man roster, place him on injured reserve or release him. Murphy had an unspecificed setback two weeks ago after practicing twice as he recovered from ACL surgery last season.