LeQuan Lewis latest injury for Buccaneers secondary

TAMPA — The Bucs just cannot catch a break in the secondary as coach Greg Schiano on Monday was not encouraging about backup CB LeQuan Lewis' apparent knee injury.

"We're waiting for some test results," Schiano said. "We will know better (today)."

The irony is the depleted secondary is about to get some help as CB Anthony Gaitor, out all season with a hamstring injury, should be available Sunday against the Eagles, Schiano said.

Gaitor practiced the past two weeks, Schiano said, and this week will take reps against the simulated Philadelphia offense.

Lewis was hurt late in Sunday's fourth quarter and was carted off from the sideline. He was seen Monday walking through the locker room stiff-legged and limping.

His injury also creates a hole on special teams, as for the past few weeks Lewis was the Bucs' primary kickoff returner. Speculation is RB Michael Smith could move into that role.

It is the secondary, though, that has been a continuing minefield, and Lewis' injury depletes its depth even more. Ronde Barber, who this season moved from cornerback to safety, took turns Sunday as a slot corner.

"We don't have a choice," Schiano said when asked if the secondary could absorb another injury. "We just line up and play with who we have."

MARTIN is FINE: Since gaining 138 yards Nov. 18 against the Panthers, RB Doug Martin has 106 yards on 39 carries in two games.

His 56 yards on 18 carries against the Broncos included just 8 yards on three carries in the second half. But Schiano said Martin, whose 1,106 rushing yards are third in the league, is not wearing down. Against Denver it was only game circumstances.

"I thought he was right on stride to have a really good rushing production day, but then we go down the three scores," Schiano said. "From 18 minutes left in the game on it was purely passing. So, you take away, really, the prime real estate for rushing the football and that's in the forth quarter when people are worn out. Overall, I thought Doug ran the ball well."

DEEP THOUGHTS: A deep zone coverage and a defensive front that seriously harassed Bucs QB Josh Freeman. If you wondered why Tampa Bay's deep passing game mostly sputtered until the fourth quarter, there is your answer.

"When you have corners playing 15 yards off the ball and bailing, it's hard to connect on those," WR Mike Williams said. "They're just bailing out there and then there's a linebacker underneath you, so you can't say, 'I'll just hit the short pass.'

"I mean, they game-planned, too. Maybe they've seen us hit the deep ball and said, 'We're not giving up the deep ball today.' They don't ever bail like that, but they did Sunday."

Entering the fourth quarter, Freeman was just 11 of 26 passing for 147 yards. Forty yards came on a first-quarter strike to Williams. After that play, which set up a touchdown, the Broncos adjusted.

"It's no excuse but you're going against a really good defense," Williams said. "Their corners really stepped up."

FLAGGED: The Bucs and Broncos combined for 19 penalties, which indicated to Schiano the refs called a tight game. But Tampa Bay's 11 penalties for 80 yards raised concerns that he hopes will be ironed out in practice.

"We have to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot," Schiano said, and added, "I think there's things that can be done. A lot of times if you get yourself in a little bit better football position, a lot of those holds and (defensive pass interference calls) don't happen. We just got to make sure we're paying attention to the fundamentals."

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.

LeQuan Lewis latest injury for Buccaneers secondary 12/03/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 10:37pm]

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