IRVING, Texas — Strong safety Jermaine Phillips could be out for an extended period after possibly breaking an arm Sunday.
Several signs after the game pointed to Phillips being sidelined for a while. One was defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's assessment of the situation.
"We're going to miss him," Kiffin said. When pressed, Kiffin declined to be specific.
"But that's why we have Sabby Piscitelli," Kiffin said. "He'll do good. He's got to come through for us. And we've got Will Allen. He's got to be ready to rotate now."
Phillips was injured in the first half and did not return to the game. The Bucs did not give details, including which arm was hurt. Phillips was unavailable for comment after the game.
If Phillips is lost, it could be a major blow to the defense. He has been superb in run support and a hard hitter in the secondary. He entered the game second on the team in tackles behind Barrett Ruud with 51. He has one interception and scored on a 38-yard fumble return against the Packers.
"Jermaine's a tremendous hitter," Kiffin said. "He's having a tremendous season, two years in a row. He's doing just as good this year as he did last year. … Jermaine Phillips can line up with any safety in the NFL. … But you don't hear enough about this guy. He hustles, and he hits, and he gets turnovers."
Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris' decision to use a three-man rotation at safety this season — an effort to get Piscitelli on the field — might now pay dividends. Piscitelli estimated that he's played 30 percent of the snaps, which has prepared him for an expanded role if necessary.
"Coach Raheem did a great job," Piscitelli, the second-year player out of Oregon State, said. "He said in the offseason (to rotate) was his goal. Jermaine is a great player, and we're going to miss him. But my job is step up and make plays."