TAMPA — Linebacker Quincy Black walked out of St. Joseph's Hospital on Sunday night after an evaluation for a neck injury, but it is unclear when he might be able to run back into the Bucs' defensive huddle.
Black, 28, was carted off the field after tackling running back Ryan Mathews in the third quarter of Sunday's 34-24 victory over the Chargers.
Coach Greg Schiano said Monday Black had no spinal cord damage and has "full function," but is experiencing complications with his left arm and will have further tests. Schiano all but ruled Black out for Sunday's game at Carolina.
"Overall, he's going to be okay," Schiano said. "But it's serious and how much time that means? We're going to have to see."
Black has use of his left arm but doctors believe there could be nerve damage and are waiting for the swelling to go down before ordering further tests, according to his agent, Marc Lillibridge.
"It's not like he's not using that left arm," Lillibridge said. "They expect it to all come back and time should help it heal, but they got some tests they want to finish. They don't know exactly what it is yet, because there's trauma to the area."
Black remained on his back for several minutes following the helmet-to-helmet collision with Mathews, who was not injured. Black's head and neck were immobilized but he gave a thumbs-up to teammates.
Schiano was the coach at Rutgers when defensive tackle Eric LeGrand suffered two fractured vertebrae, a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed following a tackle on special teams in a game against Army in Oct. 2010.
"Because of what I've been through with Eric, I was a little relieved because I saw him move his right hand," Schiano said. "That was later when he gave the thumbs up, but I saw him move it on the field. Because initially, when I saw him still, I was very worried. … Totally different situation. He was fine, looked me in the eye, talked, speaking, totally different than when that happened before."
"The spine is fine. … But I do know that it needs some further tests to get right to the bottom of it and there's some really smart, good doctors that are working on it right now for Quincy which makes me feel good that we're going to get him the best care and get the best solution and get him back to being well."
If Black misses games, the Bucs have some depth at linebacker. Veteran Adam Hayward, who returned a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Chargers, replaced him Sunday and recorded two tackles. Dekoda Watson is listed as Black's strongside backup on the depth chart and rookie Najee Goode can play there as well.
On Monday, teammates were relieved to learn Black is expected to recover.
"Whenever you see a guy drop like that, and after such a hard hit, too, it's scary as hell," said defensive tackle Gary Gibson, who played at Rutgers. "It's one of those things you never want to see on your team or anybody else's team. Especially for me, being close to Rutgers after what happened to Eric LeGrand, it's just really scary.
"What they were telling us on the field was that everything we're doing is precautionary. It was one of those things where it wasn't like he couldn't move his legs or anything like that. So that at least put us at ease."
Schiano added that he did not think the injury was career-threatening.
"I hope not, I don't know enough yet," Schiano said.
He said Black was in good spirits when he visited him at the hospital Sunday night.
"He'd just been through a lot of tests, but he was okay. He's a grown man, a mature guy and he knows there's something — it's not a little thing — but I think he'll be fine."