COMMENTARY | The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won two games in a row. But in every game they've won, they've also lost at least one starter to injury.
Against the Miami Dolphins, rookie running back Mike James broke his right ankle. This week, Mason Foster exited the game in the first half with concussion-like symptoms, and rookie corner Johnthan Banks left late in the fourth quarter favoring his shoulder after attempting to make a tackle.
Bucs coach Greg Schiano said Foster is being evaluated, but is uncertain if he'll play this Sunday against the Detroit Lions. The status of Banks is unclear as well. Schiano only described the injury as very painful, and the team hasn't released any updated information on the extent of the shoulder damage.
Every time a Tampa Bay starter has succumbed to an injury, there's been a more-than-capable player to take his place. Free agent acquisition Bobby Rainey blew away all expectations with his 163-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Falcons, and he looks to have a secure hold on the starting running back job for the rest of the season. Adam Hayward has been a special teams playmaker for the last couple years in Tampa Bay, and started five games at inside linebacker last season. He would be the favorite to take Foster's place if he's unable to play.
But the injury to Banks might be the loss that Tampa Bay can't recover from. Cornerback Michael Adams will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained against the Falcons. Adams is the third Tampa Bay cornerback to hit the I.R. this season. Even if Banks is able to play against the Lions, the Bucs will need one replacement in the secondary -- a choice between practice squad player Marc Anthony, Bobby Felder, a recent waiver claim from the Minnesota Vikings, Deveron Carr, an undrafted free agent from Arizona State, and Danny Gorrer, who has battled a mixture of injuries all season.
The Buccaneers have received great production from second and third string depth thus far, but any injury to the secondary is going to be costly. The Lions have a high-potent offense, led by Pro-Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson, and I expect quarterback Matthew Stafford to prey on whomever Tampa Bay lines up as the fourth corner on defense.
James LoPresti lives in Tampa and has a journalism degree from the University of South Florida. He has eight years experience working in print media with the Tampa Tribune and you can follow him on Twitter @JLoPresti3114.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Johnthan Banks
- Miami Dolphins
- Detroit Lions
- Mason Foster