Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs WR Vincent Jackson has sprained MCL; might be out for season

TAMPA — For the second time this season, the Bucs will have to play without WR Vincent Jackson, who injured his knee in Sunday's loss to the Saints and could be done for the season.

The Bucs are not putting Jackson on season-ending injured reserve with three games left in the regular season, but NFL Network reported that he sprained his medial collateral ligament, an injury that typically sidelines a player four weeks or more.

And Tampa Bay's receiver depth took another hit Monday when the Browns signed undrafted rookie Rannell Hall of UCF to their active roster off the Bucs' practice squad. After Jackson's injury, the Bucs leaned heavily on undrafted rookies Donteea Dye and Adam Humphries, who had two catches on six targets, with Humphries getting his first career touchdown.

BOWERS BACK: With DT Akeem Spence injuring his ankle Sunday, the Bucs will re-sign DT Da'Quan Bowers for depth on Tuesday, pending a physical. Tampa Bay waived rookie DE Josh Shirley to make room for Bowers, who has not played in the NFL this season after being cut by the Bucs in preseason.

Bowers, 25, would shore up a position that has one starter (Clinton McDonald) on injured reserve and another (Gerald McCoy) with a cast on his broken left hand. If Spence can't go for Thursday's game at St. Louis, the Bucs would start Henry Melton or Tony McDaniel against the Rams.

Bowers had 21 tackles and 11/2 sacks for the Bucs last season, but didn't latch on anywhere after being cut by Tampa Bay. Spence, 24, was helped off the field against New Orleans after injuring his left ankle — he has 11 tackles and one sack in eight games after missing five games recovering from back surgery.

Coach Lovie Smith said in addition to Jackson and Spence, G Logan Mankins (ankle) and LB Bruce Carter (ankle) would not have practiced Monday if the team had a full practice.

NO PROBLEM: As the Bucs fell behind 24-10 in the third quarter against the Saints on Sunday, frustrations were high on the sideline, with a confrontation between McCoy and defensive line coach Joe Cullen caught by TV cameras.

McCoy and Cullen eventually were separated by McDonald and Melton.

Smith reiterated Monday that he had no problem with anything that took place on the sideline.

"It's not a bad thing to be upset after (Sunday). If you could find somebody that wasn't upset, then we have a problem," Smith said. "I have no issue with that, no issue with what happened on our sideline or with how everyone reacted to that performance. There was disappointment. Sometimes with disappointment, the emotions come out a little bit. No issue with it at all. Really like it."

ANOTHER ZERO: Turnovers are the catalyst of any Smith defense, so the team's struggles go hand-in-hand with its defense forcing just one takeaway in the last three games, matching the lowest total in the NFL.

"(Opponents) protecting the football better. It's as simple as that," Smith said a day after Sunday's loss dropped him to 0-5 as Bucs coach when his team doesn't force any takeaways. "The emphasis on how important it is hasn't gotten through yet. As we build our program, this is what we would like to do, and eventually I think you have to win, but we're not there yet. Our record says we're not there."

The Bucs had zero turnovers offensively — they lost for the first time while doing that in more than two years. Teams going without a turnover have won 74 percent of the time this season, but the Bucs dropped to 2-1 when they don't have a turnover. The Saints are 30-0 under coach Sean Payton when they don't commit a turnover.

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