Tampa Bay Sports Day

BUCS: Injuries, Losses Mount as Season Hits Midway Point

Antone Smith

On Thursday Tampa Bay suffered a 43-28  loss to the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium as injuries continue to mount.

“Fatigue wasn’t a problem,” defensive tackle Akeem Spence of the quick turnaround. “Coach made sure we got enough rest. I felt great tonight and I talked to some of the guys, they felt great as well. We didn’t make enough plays tonight.”

Tampa Bay (3-5) gave up 461 yards to the Falcons, who came in leading the NFL in points and total offense. A two-game stretch of 1,087 yards is the fourth-worst two-game stretch by any NFL team in the last 50 years. The Bucs have given up 73 points in the last two weeks against Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Part of the Falcons’ success is how well Ryan spreads the ball around — he has thrown touchdowns to 10 different players, and Thursday’s win saw six different Falcons catch passes of 20 yards or longer.

“The amount of guys that get involved in the game is a big topic for us,” coach Dan Quinn said after the win, which puts his team at 6-3 and atop the NFC South. “I thought our receivers in particular played very aggressively tonight after the catch.The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to get stung by the injury bug at primarily two positions: running back and defensive end.

Tampa Bay announced Friday that running back Antone Smith and defensive end Howard Jones sustained season-ending knee injuries in a loss to the Falcons.  Both were on crutches in the locker room after the game.

The Buccaneers had already exhausted their depth at both positions and will have to add players over the weekend as they prepare for the Nov. 13 home game against the Chicago Bears.

Smith, a former FSUstandout who rushed five times for 25 yards and caught three passes for 27 yards on Thursday, is the fourth running back to go down with an injury since Doug Martin has been out since Week 2 with a hamstring injury.

Charles Simms was put on injured reserve after injuring a knee in Week 4 and Jacquizz Rodgers hurt a foot in Week 8. Russell Hansbrough could be promoted from the practice squad or the team could seek a more experienced replacement elsewhere.

Jones, who had five sacks last season, hadn’t found the same success as a backup pass rusher with just one tackle on defense and two on special teams this season. The team already had George Johnson (hip) and defensive end Jacquies Smith (knee) on injured reserve. Defensive end Robert Ayers missed four games with an ankle injury

Wide receiver Mike Evans and guard Kevin Pamphile were placed in the concussion protocol after the game, but Evans had made enough progress that Koetter expected him to practice Monday when the team gets back to work.

On Thursday the Bucs led 14-13 with five minutes to go in the opening half, but the Falcons pulled ahead, then dominated in the second half to lead 40-14 before the Bucs added two late touchdowns.