Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For Bucs, pain of Carolina rivalry pops up again

Trainers check on Bucs fullback Byron Storer in the first quarter of Sunday’s game. Storer tore the ACL in his right knee.


Trainers check on Bucs fullback Byron Storer in the first quarter of Sunday’s game. Storer tore the ACL in his right knee.

TAMPA — Call it the Carolina curse.

For the third time in as many years, the Bucs lost a starting player after their first meeting of the season with the Panthers.

Fullback Byron Storer said he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while covering a kickoff in Sunday's 27-3 win over Carolina. He is expected to be placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

Storer joins a growing list of Bucs who have paid a high price for playing the Panthers. Two years ago, quarterback Chris Simms ruptured his spleen in the first of two games with Carolina. Last season, running back Cadillac Williams (torn patellar tendon) and tackle Luke Petitgout (torn knee ligaments) suffered season-ending injuries against the NFC South rival.

None of those players have participated in a regular-season NFL game since.

"We're in trouble right now at fullback," coach Jon Gruden said Monday.

Starting fullback B.J. Askew has missed the past three games with a torn hamstring and is likely at least a week away from returning.

With the trade deadline today, the avenues for the Bucs to acquire a fullback are dwindling.

Tampa Bay may opt to sign a free agent with experience in the system such as Jameel Cook, who was released by the Houston Texans this year.

Meanwhile, Storer, a second-year player who had done an admirable job filling in for Askew, is dealing with the first major injury of his career.

"It's bad news," Storer said Monday while wearing a knee brace. "I was just trying to play over the top of a guy and the leg gave out. It wasn't a hit or anything. It was the funniest thing. … I had never had problems with knees or anything. I've never really have a major injury."

Storer is not alone. The Bucs had two other serious injuries Sunday: Starting left guard Arron Sears sprained his right knee, and receiver Maurice Stovall pulled a hamstring. Neither finished Sunday's game.

On Sunday, the Bucs benefited from Earnest Graham's willingness to play fullback and block the rest of the game for Warrick Dunn, who finished with 115 rushing yards.

Tight end Alex Smith is the emergency fullback, but asking Graham to change roles is not in the plan.

"You know what? Earnest is a heck of a tailback," Gruden said of his team's leading rusher. "We possibly could be looking for a fullback. Obviously, moving a tight end into that position has always been a part of our contingency plan."

When Askew got hurt at Chicago, he was expected to miss 4-6 weeks. He still hasn't run but said Monday that he possibly could play Sunday against Seattle.

"I still have to get out there and actually do some running to weigh the risk factor versus the reward factor," he said. "It's just one of those things where it's going to take time and we have to see how it goes.

"I think it's realistic (I could play this week). I think I could've played the week after I did it, but that's just the mind-set I have."

The Bucs might get some good news on injuries. Receiver Joey Galloway, out the past four games with a right foot sprain, is expected to practice Wednesday and could play against the Seahawks.

"Galloway goes out there before the game and my brother, Jay, threw him about a hundred balls," Gruden said. "There's a chance he'll give it a go on Wednesday. I would say he's questionable at this point for Seattle. It's his former team, the team that drafted him. It's probably a little incentive for him to go up against his former team, but I don't know."

Ironically, considering the injuries, the Bucs will honor retired fullback Mike Alstott on Sunday. Alstott's neck problems began in 2003 during a game against — you guessed it — Carolina.

"We're going to have to do something," Gruden said. "We are a two-back team. Mike Alstott will be celebrated Sunday night. I might talk him in to playing. It's going to be a great reunion with our former captain, and given our circumstances, we can talk to him about giving us one more shot."

For Bucs, pain of Carolina rivalry pops up again 10/13/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 7:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. LSU's Paul Mainieri defends FSU's Mike Martin; Gators play Friday


    OMAHA, Neb. — LSU coach Paul Mainieri says whether Florida State's Mike Martin ever wins a national championship should have no bearing on how his long career in college baseball is judged.

    MADE IT: Josh Watson beats the tag of Louisville catcher Colby Fitch during TCU’s 4-3 win in the College World Series.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101