The Bucs have lost defensive end Jacquies Smith to a season-ending knee injury, placing him on injured reserve Monday after he was injured in punt coverage in Sunday's win against the Falcons.
Smith suffered a torn ACL, the Bucs announced, their second defensive end lost to a season-ending injury, following George Johnson with a fractured hip in August. No corresponding move was announced, but the Bucs could reach out to Kourtnei Brown, who was among the team's final cuts nine days ago.
Smith, who has 13.5 sacks in the past two seasons, wasn't a starter but was among the team's most effective pass-rushers, working well in the nickel defense, often on likely passing downs where the Bucs aren't as concerned about guarding against run plays. Coach Dirk Koetter said the injury was "very unfortunate" and something his team will have to overcome.
"He's a guy that's a starter in our nickel package, a key contributor," Koetter said. "It's going to be tough. We've got to pick up the slack in other areas. Some guys have to play more snaps than they might have played before. We're going to be tested on our depth. We've been saying that we thought we had depth at defensive line and this is going to test us right off the back. ... It's an unfortunate part of this game, in that sometimes you get things like that that you can't see coming. One of the few unfortunate parts of the game."
With Smith out, the Bucs will lean more on second-year pro Howard Jones, who had five sacks in a similar role last season, and rookie Channing Ward, who was inactive for Sunday's opener.