On Monday, Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris confirmed that Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was headed for injured reserve with a biceps injury for a second straight year. McCoy tore the biceps muscle in his left arm in Sunday's 26-17 loss at New Orleans after returning from missing the last two games due to an ankle injury he suffered in the team's 48-3 loss to the 49ers in early October.
"Losing Gerald yesterday hurt," Morris said. "He’s going to be out for the rest of the year with a torn biceps. But you can see the difference in our play up front with him out of the game – how it affects our get-off and some of the things we’re able to do there positively on defense. ... He’s out – IR."
This year's biceps injury is different from the one he suffered last December at Washington, which was his right arm. Morris indicated that the injury was somewhat freak in nature and is hard to prevent.
"It was an opportunity. He got off the ball and had a chance to make a play on the back and he kinda reached [his arm] out rather than put your face in there. You've got to move into the ball and sky your eyes and hit on contact. He just reached at the guy – which is something – a common mistake coming off a block – to reach for the guy."
When asked by the media, Morris did not think McCoy is injury-prone despite having his first two seasons end on injured reserve due to biceps tears.
"That’s football," Morris said. "I’m all gray matter. Next man up. We’ve got to find a way to get the next victory and be ready to deal. ... It’s football. Matt Stafford missed two seasons for the Detroit Lions and he is probably putting up his best season. He has to come back, he has to go rehab, get his mind right and come back ready to play. And be ready to play a 16 game season."
In his two year Buccaneers career, McCoy has played in 19 games and recorded 56 tackles, four sacks, 10 tackles for loss, five passes defensed and one forced fumble. Morris said the Tampa Bay defense will miss his ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage the most down the stretch as the team tries to improve on its 4-4 record in 2011.
"You lose the get-off, the explosiveness. You’re talking about a top-3 pick. You’re talking about a guy who gets off the ball, causes disruptions. When he’s played, he’s been playing really well for us. He’s done a great job for us versus the run. He’s done a great job as far as the explosion and the get-off. He makes game plans change. Yesterday, he did a great job at chipping the ends, really trying to take those guys out the game because they’ve been playing well. We didn’t have the same inside push that we would normally get with a guy like Gerald."
The Bucs were already thin at defensive tackle on Sunday as they were missing Frank Okam, who was out with a calf injury. That forced Morris to use defensive ends Michael Bennett and George Johnson at defensive tackle behind Brian Price and Roy Miller. Placing McCoy on injured reserve opens up a roster spot that the team will fill with another defensive tackle.
"We are going to have to add somebody to the roster," Morris said. "How fast we can implement them into our Rosetta Stone of teaching to get him going is obviously going to be my challenge. We will handle that and we have some really good D-line coaches that will help us out there. We had a defensive tackle by committee yesterday, which was rough. Especially when you ask some guys to go down there that aren’t full-time guys going – like a George Johnson or Michael Bennett. We [played] Da’Quan Bowers [at three technique tackle] the first time we played them. That’s a positive note. Da’Quan Bowers is getting better.”
In addition to placing McCoy on injured reserve, the Bucs also released running back Chad Spann and center/guard Zane Taylor from the practice squad.