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Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting to look jinxed with all of its defensive line injuries

TAMPA

If you want to know why the Buccaneers have had the fewest sacks with 49 over the past two seasons, look no further than Gerald McCoy's biceps, Brian Price's hamstrings and Da'Quan Bowers' knee and Achilles.

Bowers became the latest highly drafted defensive lineman to need snakebite antivenom after rupturing his right Achilles during offseason workouts Thursday.

The Bucs announced that Bowers, who was a second-round selection from Clemson in 2011 after leading the nation in sacks, had successful surgery in Coral Gables on Friday.

It may be a freaky coincidence, but it's hard to imagine another team having this many high draft picks on the defensive line suffer season-ending injuries.

Gerald McCoy, the No. 3 overall pick in 2010, tore his left biceps while playing his 13th regular-season game as a rookie. Last season, he tore the right biceps in the sixth game of the year and was placed on injured reserve. Some have suggested both injuries might have been avoided with the right technique.

Brian Price, who entered the league with a history of hamstring issues, played in only five games as a rookie due to a small fracture in his hip that contributed to sore hamstrings.

Now Bowers, who plummeted to the second round after having knee surgery and produced only 1.5 sacks last season.

Bowers vows to return to the field in 2012. Depending on the severity of the injury and his ability to recover, that could be too optimistic.

Former Bucs running back Earnest Graham ruptured his Achilles early in a 24-18 loss to the Chicago Bears in London in October. The Wembley Stadium field is notorious for being wet and offers poor footing. Graham said his injury was the result of a perfect storm. He borrowed another player's cleats, hoping to get better traction. But the field was wet and he took a false step on a swing pass from quarterback Josh Freeman.

"Not a real good day," Graham said.

Graham said his Achilles ruptured in the middle. Sometimes, the tendon can look like strands of spaghetti after the injury, but Graham said his was a clean tear and he was optimistic for a quick recovery. But complications developed after surgery when he had a reaction to the sutures and developed an infection.

Graham says he is only 75 to 80 percent recovered and not able to play if he wanted to. At 32, he said he would only consider "the right opportunity" and is at peace with making the transition from football.

Of course, every injury is different, and it will help that Bowers is only 22. But Graham says Bowers is in for a long road ahead.

"It's pretty difficult to come back from," Graham said of the torn Achilles. "It's definitely tough. DaQuan is going to eventually need to put weight on it and transfer his weight. It's one of those things where it can feel great, like you're ahead of the schedule, and the slightest thing sets you back to square one.

"I know he'll take his time. He's only 22, so it shouldn't be as tough."

Bucs long snapper Andrew Economos tore his hamstring just prior to the 2011 NFL draft and managed to return to the lineup in November.

In the short term, the Bucs will rely more on Michael Bennett, who was the starter at left defensive end for most of the season and finished with four sacks in 14 games. They will take a long look at players on their roster such as George Johnson, E.J. Wilson, Hilee Taylor and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. They could consider veteran free agents, but frankly, the choices aren't that great with players such as Jimmy Wilkerson and Vonnie Holliday.

In the meantime, the Bucs might want to get more antivenom.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting to look jinxed with all of its defensive line injuries 05/12/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 9:59pm]
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