As feared, Buccaneers running back Earnest Graham will be placed on injured reserve after rupturing his Achilles tendon Sunday on Tampa Bay’s second offensive series. Graham is scheduled to have surgery to repair the damage and the injury could be a possible career-ender for the eight-year veteran, who turns 32 next year.
According to a report from Duke University orthopedic doctors, nearly 36 percent of NFL players who rupture or tear their Achilles are unable to return to football and a significant portion that do have decreased abilities. The average rehab time from the injury varies, but the study cited up to one year before a player is able to resume full contact and action.
Tampa Bay is hoping to have LeGarrette Blount back after the bye week but there are no guarantees Blount will be ready as he missed two weeks worth of practice time due to an MCL (medial collateral ligament) injury he suffered at San Francisco on October 9. A speedy recovery can’t come fast enough for the Buccaneers and Blount as the only other running back on the active roster is Kregg Lumpkin, who totaled just 15 yards on eight carries (1.9 avg.) last week while replacing Graham against the Bears.
Rookies Mossis Madu and the newly signed Chad Spann are both currently on the Buccaneers practice squad. Allen Bradford, who was released by the Seahawks last week and signed to the Seahawks' practice squad, is a possibility to be brought back by the Buccaneers due to his familiarity with the offense. The former USC star earned a roster spot out of training camp before being released to make room for safety Tanard Jackson.
Sources have told PewterReport.com that Madu is likely to be called up from the practice squad although no official announcement from the Buccaneers has been released. The team may also wait until after the bye week to make a roster move after seeing if any current veteran running backs are placed on waivers over the next week. Any other options to add a player are limited as the trading deadline passed last week.
Some notable free agent names that have surfaced as potential replacements are former Redskin Clinton Portis and former New York Giant Tiki Barber. Sources tell PewterReport.com that signing Barber is unlikely.
Graham, one of the most popular players in the locker room, had a 109-yard rushing effort in the Buccaneers 26-20 victory over the Saints and was expected to carry the load until Blount’s return. But Graham’s durability has been in question as the former Gator has ended up on injured reserve each of the last three seasons.
Graham joined the Buccaneers in 2003 as an undrafted free agent after a stellar four-year career at the University of Florida. The former Gator was always a standout each preseason earning the nickname “Mr. August.”
In 2007 Graham’s hard work and dedication paid off, when after replacing an injured Cadillac Williams, the Cape Coral native was inserted into the starting lineup and rushed for a career-high 898 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games.
During his Buccaneers career, the player head coach Raheem Morris calls "Insurance Graham" has amassed 2,047 yards rushing on 477 carries (4.3 yard-per-carry average) and added 904 yards on 129 receptions. Graham has 16 career touchdowns.
In the 2011 season, Graham had rushed for 206 yards on 37 carries and had 26 receptions for 163 yards.
In other roster news the Bucs released long snapper Christian Yount today. Andrew Economos is likely to be activated and resume his duties. Economos ironically is recovering from an Achilles injury suffered prior to training camp.