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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jermaine Phillips out, Derrick Brooks banged up

Michael Turner shakes off a tackle by Jermaine Phillips, the Bucs safety who broke his right forearm in Sunday’s game.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Michael Turner shakes off a tackle by Jermaine Phillips, the Bucs safety who broke his right forearm in Sunday’s game.

TAMPA — SS Jermaine Phillips can't catch a break.

Coach Jon Gruden confirmed Monday that the hard-hitting veteran fractured his right forearm Sunday at Atlanta, sidelining him for the season.

Phillips is likely to go on injured reserve this week, allowing the Bucs to add depth in the secondary or elsewhere.

But Phillips' injury isn't the only concern. LB Derrick Brooks suffered an unspecified rib injury that limited him late in the game, forcing him to the sideline. Brooks was unavailable for comment.

"We are concerned about him," Gruden said. "I'll remain optimistic because of who we're talking about, but we have our concerns."

Gruden was referring to Brooks' string of games. He has never missed one, playing 222 consecutive games (tied with teammate Kevin Carter for most among active defensive players) and starting 219 straight (second among active players to QB Brett Favre).

Phillips broke his right forearm in 2004 and had surgery to insert a plate on the bone. A year later, Phillips broke his right hand, just below the wrist. And in October, Phillips broke his left arm, sidelining him for a month. Sunday's injury is the latest in the mystifying trend.

Phillips is "one of our leaders," Gruden said. "I can't explain it. Very, very unfortunate for us."

And Gruden would make no prediction on QB Jeff Garcia's chances of playing against San Diego on Sunday, saying the status of his calf injury would not be updated until Wednesday.

Monte's successor: Now that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin confirmed his intentions to depart after the season to join son Lane at the University of Tennessee, the Bucs soon will have a vacancy to fill. But that can wait, Gruden said.

The Bucs will focus on finishing the season before they deal with potential candidates, including DBs coach Raheem Morris, though Gruden didn't mention him by name.

"We're not going to talk about that really," Gruden said. "We certainly have (in-house) candidates. We're going to finish this season."

Terrible timing: QB Brian Griese could be forced into action again if Garcia doesn't heal. If so, one area he'll need to improve is avoiding sacks. While there were a few protection breakdowns, Griese's indecision led to a few sacks that were avoidable. He was sacked four times, but more troublesome for the Bucs than the total was their timing. None was more ill-timed than the takedown by Falcons DE John Abraham that resulted in an 11-yard loss with less than two minutes to play.

"His pocket presence has been good," Gruden said of Griese. But, he added, "There were times where I think, uncharacteristically, Brian held the ball. But he's trying to make a play, too."

Where's Joey?: WR Joey Galloway was inactive Sunday, and Gruden echoed Galloway's sentiments that it was strictly a football decision made because circumstances prevented the Bucs from activating an extra receiver.

"The versatility issues are part of our problem," he said. "Special teams plays into the decision. … I'll leave it at that. He's a friend of mine. I love the guy. And I'm sick for the fact he's not a part of this."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jermaine Phillips out, Derrick Brooks banged up 12/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 18, 2008 9:22am]
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