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Tampa Bay Bucs' Luke Stocker slowed by knee injury

TAMPA — Luke Stocker's rookie season is becoming as strained as his injured knee.

The Bucs tight end from Tennessee, who missed three preseason games with a hip injury he suffered the first day of training camp, most likely will not play Sunday at San Francisco.

Stocker, 23, is week-to-week with a knee injury he suffered in a 24-17 win over the Colts on Monday night, coach Raheem Morris said.

"Luke Stocker will probably be a week-to-week guy," Morris said. "He got rolled up, I'm not exactly sure about the extent of the injury. I'm sure it's on there. But we have to practice without him, and he'll be missed. He's a tough kid. He'll probably get back soon."

The Bucs have had success running the ball with LeGarrette Blount behind a two-tight-end set with Stocker and Kellen Winslow. Morris said the Bucs might lean more on their backup tight ends.

"We've got Zack Pianalto on our football team and Collin Franklin on our football team," Morris said. "If Kellen has to take a little heavier load, he's got to take a heavier load. We'll just get ready to go out there and run our plays and give the ball to LeGarrette Blount and put a little more weight on what (Erik) Lorig means to us and a little bit of Earnest Graham and some of those other guys and lean heavier on our tackles and get those guys going heavier on their double teams and make it happen. … It's next man up. We really don't talk about injuries."

ISN'T THAT SPECIAL: The Bucs' special teams unit is among the best in the NFL, particularly at covering kicks. But Tampa Bay will be tested by 49ers receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn Jr., who had a 102-yard kickoff return and a 55-yard punt return for touchdowns against Seattle in the season opener.

"I feel like it's going to be a heavyweight with those guys," Morris said. "Our special teams have been good; their special teams have been good.

"Ginn has been dangerous since he came into the league. Actually, he's getting better as a receiver. That's the first thing I notice when I put in the tape. I see him running more routes, not just vertical routes anymore. He has the ability to get across the middle and do some different things. He's been asked to do some different things, and he's responded. They still do a nice job in the return game; he still does a nice job with the vertical routes. He's one of those guys who will be a challenge for us."

OKAM to play VS. NINERS: Frank Okam, the Bucs' 350-pound backup under tackle behind Gerald McCoy, was inactive Monday because he was a bad fit against the Colts' zone rushing scheme. But Morris said Okam will play at San Francisco.

"(The Colts are) a zone-scheme team. It wasn't conducive for a big guy like Frank," Morris said. "So we put him down, put some other people up. He'll play this week for us. We've got a nice power team coming (up)."

line addition: The Bucs added former Illinois State OT Chris Riley to the practice squad. The move is in response to the Dolphins taking OT Will Barker from Tampa Bay's practice squad this week.

INJURIES: In addition to Stocker, CB Aqib Talib (knee), S Devin Holland (back), LB Zac Diles (hamstring), LB Quincy Black (ankle), T James Lee (knee), WR Sammie Stroughter (foot) and Winslow (knee) did not practice Thursday at Tropicana Field. Graham (hamstring) had limited participation. Pianalto (calf) and DE Tim Crowder (knee) practiced. Winslow is expected to play Sunday.

Tampa Bay Bucs' Luke Stocker slowed by knee injury 10/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 6, 2011 11:00pm]
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