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Bucs’ McCoy on IR again

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TAMPA, Fla. — Big Gerald McCoy refused to take a cart or even be helped off the field after spraining his right knee in Sunday’s 19-17 loss at Carolina. But at 2-11, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t taking any chances with their franchise defensive tackle and on Monday decided to place him on injured reserve.

It’s the third time in five years McCoy’s season will end prematurely with an injury.

Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Monday McCoy will be joined on injured reserve by rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who was unable to return from a back injury at Chicago last month, and receiver Louis Murphy, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s game.

McCoy, the face of the franchise, who leads the Bucs with 8.5 sacks, will wind up missing three games this season. He did not play in the 56-14 loss at Atlanta Sept. 18 because of a broken hand. But with games against Green Bay and New Orleans remaining, the Bucs weren’t going to take any chances with McCoy’s future.

Smith said McCoy will not require surgery.

“Of course you want to finish the games with your guys but you have to look at the bigger picture and that’s my overall health,” McCoy said. “The reality is we’re not going to be in the playoffs. We fought hard, but things didn’t go this season the way we wanted. So I’ve just got to look at the bigger picture and more long-term.”

Earlier this year, McCoy signed a seven-year, $98-million contract extension. McCoy’s first two seasons were cut short after he tore both biceps in each arm. He now will have missed 16 games in his career, the equivalent of a full season.

“You know how Gerald took the news. He didn’t go off on a cart yesterday. When you’re the leader of a team, you want to be there right up until the end,” Smith said of McCoy. “Of course, it wasn’t a decision Gerald was going to make. He wanted to continue to play. First off, he has an injury and he can’t play. We’ll take every precaution with him. Going through a year like this, you want to finish it with the troops. But he’ll have a chance to get started on next year.”

Smith said he knew of McCoy’s reputation as a player but was impressed with his leadership this season.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Smith said. “Showed up every day, leading every drill, great player. Face of the franchise for good reason. His future is so bright, and again, we’ve been through a lot. We’ve been down here together, it’s going to be fun rising up together but we will rise up based on players like him.”

Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald has a chance to return from a hamstring injury and could start at the three technique for McCoy against the Packers.

Seferian-Jenkins showed flashes of being what the Bucs hoped when they drafted him in the second round out of Washington. He caught 21 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

But his most memorable plays might have been two rookie mistakes. He fumbled on the first play of overtime in a loss to Minnesota and drew a 15-yard penalty for his Captain Morgan-like pose in the end zone following a go-ahead touchdown in a 27-17 loss to Atlanta two weeks later.

Seferian-Jenkins said he didn’t think he played up to his potential.

“Honestly, I don’t think I made enough plays out there,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I don’t think I was even close to what my potential is and what I can be. This year, personally, has been a disappointment for myself. I’m looking forward to getting out there next year and showing everybody what I can do, showing my teammates what I can do.”

Smith said Seferian-Jenkins, who started nine games, will benefit from the experience he got as a rookie.

“I think he got from it, all the way back from training camp coming in, making us take notice right away, he’s done enough around here for the people who have seen him to know he has a bright future ahead of him,” Smith said.

Murphy, a St. Petersburg native, was originally cut the day before the season opener and returned in Week 4 and had six catches for 99-yards in leading the Bucs to a come-from-behind 27-24 upset at Pittsburgh. Murphy will become a free agent but Smith said the Bucs would like to have him back next season.

REPORT CARD VS. THE PANTHERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: D — QB Josh McCown had another terrible day throwing the ball, completing less than 50 percent of his passes for the third straight game. He also lost two fumbles and threw an interception. The sack-fumbles led to 10 points in the second half.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: A — The Bucs finally ran the ball with Doug Martin, who had a season-high 96 yards on 14 carries, including a 63-yard run, his longest of the season. The Bucs also got production from rookie Charles Sims, who rushed seven times for 34 yards. All told, the Bucs averaged 6.6 yards per carry and McCown added a rushing touchdown.

–PASS DEFENSE: D — The Bucs went into the game with a plan to shut down TE Greg Olson and WR Kelvin Benjamin. Some plan. Both players went over 100 yards receiving and backup QB Derek Anderson beat the Bucs for the second time this season, finishing with a 91.4 rating.

–RUSHING DEFENSE: B — Even though the Panthers rushed for 121 yards, they really didn’t hurt the Bucs too much on the ground. Tampa Bay was playing without MLB Mason Foster and McCoy was limited to only 18 snaps. Still, the Panthers averaged 3.8 yards per carry.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Michael Koenen killed one punt inside the 20 but only netted 35.2 yards on five attempts. The Bucs did cover kickoffs well. And Patrick Murray connected on his only FG attempt, a 48-yarder.

–COACHING: D — It was the seventh loss for the Bucs in a game in which they allowed 22 points or less. The offensive line has been an issue as well as the play-calling by Marcus Arroyo. But the turnovers by McCown have killed the Bucs this season.


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