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Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep shuffling roster to deal with injuries

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy tries to stop Redskins running back Ryan Torain on a 23-yard run in the first quarter Sunday; McCoy, a rookie, is out for the season with a torn left biceps.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy tries to stop Redskins running back Ryan Torain on a 23-yard run in the first quarter Sunday; McCoy, a rookie, is out for the season with a torn left biceps.

TAMPA — Most teams save the player introductions for when they run onto the field. The Bucs still are having them each week in the locker room.

Al Woods, meet Alex Magee. Derek Hardman, say hello to Ted Larsen.

For the third consecutive week, the Bucs lost two starters for the season — defensive tackle Gerald McCoy tore his left biceps and linebacker Quincy Black broke his arm in Sunday's 17-16 win at Washington.

Both players went on season-ending injured reserve Monday. They join guard Davin Joseph (broken hand) and safety Cody Grimm (broken leg), who were lost Nov. 28 at Baltimore, and cornerback Aqib Talib (torn tendon near hip) and center Jeff Faine (torn triceps), who were hurt Dec. 5 against Atlanta.

But the beat — and the physical beatings — goes on.

"This week we lost McCoy, we lost Quincy Black, two more starters," coach Raheem Morris said. "And the next man has got to go in there and fill in and play well and play well enough to win. We have another opportunity to go out there and do it again."

McCoy, this year's third overall pick, was injured on the third play of the game when he reached to make a tackle. Redskins running back Ryan Torain, who rushed for 172 yards on 24 carries, did most of his damage in the first half with McCoy out.

Because under tackle is so critical to the Bucs defense, replacing McCoy might be the biggest challenge for Morris this season. But defensive end Michael Bennett was inserted at McCoy's spot in the second half Sunday, and his quickness was effective against the Redskins' zone blocking.

Morris said other candidates include starting nose tackle Roy Miller and Frank Okam, who was promoted from the practice squad last week.

"The thing with Bennett is, he hadn't played inside since he was with Seattle, and we saw it on tape," Morris said. "In order to get the quickness we lost from Gerald, we had to throw Mike Bennett in there at halftime, and he was productive for us. He did a good job."

Bennett has been with the Bucs since he was claimed off waivers Oct. 12, 2009. But he has had trouble cracking the rotation at defensive end despite leading the team in sacks in the preseason.

Replacing Black, who missed games against the Panthers and 49ers in November with an ankle sprain, might not be as difficult. The Bucs will again turn to a combination of veteran Adam Hayward and rookie Dekoda Watson.

The timing of McCoy's injury couldn't be worse. At 8-5, the Bucs are in the thick of the race for an NFC wild-card spot and were helped by Green Bay's loss Sunday at Detroit. The Bucs host the Lions and Seahawks before ending the regular season Jan. 2 at New Orleans.

"I felt bad for Gerald because he had played so well," general manager Mark Dominik said. "Last week he didn't have the stats, but he had really been playing better and better every week. And when you're a team right now where we're at, you're frustrated you can't be a part of where it can go. That's really the hard part. For Quincy, too."

Dominik said Morris and his staff have done a good job preparing new players to step in for injured starters. That process began when the organization allowed practice-squad players to travel with the team.

"Some people wonder why we travel practice-squad players," Dominik said. "We travel them and get them prepared so when their day comes up to play in the game, they haven't not been on a road trip, they haven't not slept in a hotel, they've been in the meetings. All that is not new to them."

The Bucs are considering promoting former USF linebacker Tyrone McKenzie from the practice squad for Sunday's game against the Lions.

McKenzie, a third-round pick of the Patriots in 2009, was signed Nov. 10. But introductions might still be in order.

"That's why I kind of laugh when (media members) talk about lucky plays," Morris said of the win over the Redskins on a botched extra point. "I remember football was fun when that guy made a field goal in the snow and it was the Ice Bowl. And guys playing in the snow and a fumble happens and we call it the Tuck Rule. We come off the stage (Sunday) and we get a snap that wasn't executed because of weather and what football is all about and you guys say it's luck. It's kind of disrespectful. Why couldn't it be the slip-and-slide game? And the Bucs win."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep shuffling roster to deal with injuries 12/13/10 [Last modified: Monday, December 13, 2010 11:18pm]
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