TAMPA — The Bucs lost starting DT Clinton McDonald for the rest of the season, placing the veteran on injured reserve Tuesday with a pectoral muscle injury suffered in an Oct. 25 loss at the Redskins.
McDonald had been one of the Bucs' best defenders against the run. At the time of the injury, he led the team in tackles against the run, and was among the most productive defensive tackles in the NFL in total tackles.
"He's been that way since he got here. … He hasn't changed," teammate Gerald McCoy said of McDonald last week. "He takes pride in his job. His job as the nose guard is to anchor down and one-on-one blocks from the center, he's supposed to win them all and he takes pride in that. … You never have to worry about whether he'll be around the ball or giving it his all. That's a huge luxury for anybody on the defense, not just me."
The Bucs started third-year pro Akeem Spence — himself just in his second week back from a back injury — in Sunday's victory at Atlanta, and veterans Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel (out the past two games with a groin injury) should also take on larger roles in McDonald's absence.
With McDonald on injured reserve, the Bucs no longer need to drop a player to make room this week for RT Demar Dotson, who will be activated after missing seven games with a knee injury.
Transactions: The Bucs reached an injury settlement Tuesday with OT Reid Fragel, who was waived-injured last week after suffering a concussion in practice a week earlier. Fragel made his NFL debut in the win against Jacksonville, working as a sixth lineman.
The Bucs released LB Julian Stanford from the practice squad after signing him last week, and the team worked out three unsigned tackles, all undrafted rookies: Ohio State's Darryl Baldwin, Tulane's Sean Donnelly and Auburn's Patrick Miller. None had been signed as of Tuesday night.
Vote now: LB Kwon Alexander, who had two takeaways and 11 tackles in the Bucs' win Sunday, just two days after his 17-year-old brother was shot and killed in their hometown in Alabama, is one of five finalists for the NFL rookie of the week honor.
If Alexander wins, the Bucs will have won the award four times in their seven games this season — QB Jameis Winston has won twice and Alexander once before. Fans can vote at nfl.com/rookies.
This and that: The unofficial depth chart changed this week to reflect Joe Hawley being the starting center. Hawley stepped in for Evan Smith in Week 2, when Smith had an ankle injury, and has started the past five games, two with Smith healthy and active as a backup. … The Giants come to town Sunday with a familiar face on their staff — quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan was the Bucs' offensive coordinator in 2012-13 under Greg Schiano.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.