TAMPA — The Bucs are preparing to be without four-time Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy and DE Noah Spence for Monday night's road game against the Panthers.
McCoy suffered a left calf injury with 12:24 left in the first half of Sunday's 27-7 loss to the Broncos and did not return. He wore a walking boot on his left leg when he left the locker room. Spence suffered a right shoulder injury and also did not return.
"We don't know exactly as I stand up here right now, but there's a chance (McCoy will be out) and obviously when you lose a player like Gerald for any amount of time it hurts," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Monday. "Usually he's going to draw a double team. With that said, Clinton McDonald stepped up and had his best game of the year. I also felt like Wil Gholston had his best game of the year. Somebody needs to rise up anytime a guy is down and I thought those two guys did that."
In anticipation of losing McCoy for at least one game, the Bucs signed former Browns DT John Hughes on Monday. Hughes, a third-round draft pick in 2012 when current Bucs director of player personnel John Spytek was in Cleveland, has 109 tackles and 51/2 sacks in four seasons. The Patriots signed and cut him last week after he was cut by the Browns.
McCoy had two tackles, a quarterback hit and half a sack before leaving the game. McDonald finished with a team-leading eight tackles, including two for a loss, 11/2 sacks and two quarterback hits. The Bucs already were without starting DE Robert Ayers, who suffered an ankle sprain in the season opener and aggravated it in Week 2 at Arizona.
TE Brandon Myers left Sunday's game with an injured hip. He was playing for injured starter Luke Stocker. Koetter said the Bucs will know more about McCoy after further evaluation today.
SIMS' ROLE: Koetter said the Bucs were considering moving RB Charles Sims back to his role as a change-of-pace back, even if starter Doug Martin (hamstring) cannot play Monday. In two games as the feature back, Sims has rushed for 83 yards on 28 carries (2.9 average). The Bucs likely will turn to Jacquizz Rodgers, who has 69 yards on 13 carries (5.3 average) this season.
"Maybe we got to go back and look at fitting the roles into the player's specific strengths in the run game," Koetter said. "We're going to get Doug back here at some point and he's one of the best running backs in the league. That would be a welcome sight when we get him back in there. But we can't just keep doing the same stuff because that's not working."
THIS AND THAT: To make room for Hughes, the Bucs on Monday waived WR Freddie Martino.
Contact Rick Stroud at firstname.lastname@example.org and listen from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow @NFLStroud.