Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two more on Bucs defense battling injuries

TAMPA — The Bucs will likely face sensational Rams rookie RB Todd Gurley on Thursday night without two more of their top players in the middle of the defense.

MLB Bruce Carter and DT Akeem Spence, who each left Sunday's 24-17 loss to the Saints with ankle injuries, wore protective boots Tuesday and did not practice.

With Carter sidelined, the Bucs had Danny Lansanah working at middle linebacker. He would be their third starter in as many games at the position after the league suspended rookie Kwon Alexander for four games for performance-enhancing drugs.

With Spence sidelined and Clinton McDonald on injured reserve, the Bucs will lean more heavily on Tony McDaniel and Henry Melton at defensive tackle.

"We're not ruling anybody out right now," coach Lovie Smith said. "We have a few hours, still, before we play and, this early, just keep in mind of how long (ago) we played. Everybody's a little sore, still, right now, so we've adjusted the schedule that way."

WR Vincent Jackson, potentially missing multiple games with a sprained knee, did not practice, nor did LG Logan Mankins, who played through an ankle injury in Sunday's game and is still likely to play Thursday.

Two defensive ends who have missed multiple games with injuries — starter Jacquies Smith (hamstring) and backup George Johnson (calf) — were back at practice, a promising step toward their healthy return.

New nickelback?: The Bucs might make another shift in their secondary after giving up 300-plus yards in Sunday's loss to New Orleans. Nickel Alterraun Verner practiced with the cornerbacks Tuesday and backup CB Mike Jenkins was working at nickel with S Keith Tandy.

Verner committed a costly defensive holding penalty on the Saints' final drive — instead of the Bucs getting the ball back after a third-down incompletion, New Orleans was able to run out the clock.

Jenkins, a former USF standout, has barely played in the past six games, getting a total of 18 defensive snaps after he was dropped from his starting role at cornerback.

Koetter defends (non-)use of Martin: Something didn't add up after Sunday's loss as RB Doug Martin had only 11 carries for 81 yards against the league's worst rushing defense.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, noting the Bucs had only 52 offensive snaps, said it's really a simple equation if you do the math.

"I always like to say, anyone who talks about touches, do the math working backwards," Koetter said. "How many plays did you have? Divide up how many times you want every guy to touch it and then try to make that equation work out. I would love for Doug to touch it 25 times in every game. But the one thing I'm always talking about, when you're the play-caller, you always have to deal with time and score, time and score, time and score. That dictates a lot."

Patched up: Defensive line coach Joe Cullen and DT Gerald McCoy had a heated sideline confrontation during Sunday's game after a touchdown run by the Saints' Tim Hightower near the end of the third quarter.

McCoy and Cullen were separated at one point by McDonald and the altercation was captured by Fox TV cameras during the live broadcast.

McCoy said Tuesday he and Cullen have since smoothed things over and put the incident to bed.

"I'm a professional, and so is he, but he's our leader as far as the defensive line goes," McCoy said. "We're not always going to agree. We're going to bump heads. It was a disagreement. It got heated but we apologized to each other right after. I talked to him after the game. I called him again after the game. We talked again (Monday).

"Those things happen. It's going to be made a bigger deal than it was."

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

Two more on Bucs defense battling injuries 12/15/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pitching on no rest backfires for Erasmo Ramirez, Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — After battling through a 61/2-hour affair Sunday in Minnesota that was the second-longest game in franchise history, Rays officials were quick to decide that even though Erasmo Ramirez had just worked the 15th and final inning, they would stick with him to start Monday's game in Texas.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers, comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    The Rays had good reason to have faith in RHP Erasmo Ramirez starting Monday after closing Sunday based on his resiliency, versatility and efficiency. But, for whatever reason, he just didn't pitch well and got knocked out in the third.

  3. Rays journal: Dugout bench becomes bed for Logan Morrison at end of long night

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays found creative ways to get through the physical and mental fatigue of the 6½ hours they spent playing — and ultimately winning — Sunday's game in Minnesota.

    Corey Dickerson drapes towels over an exhausted Logan Morrison in the dugout during the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon victory.
  4. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, Arlington, Texas

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Rangers

    8:05, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
  5. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]