The 0-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost nine straight games dating back to 2008, but the players aren't throwing in the towel.
In fact, Bucs wide receiver Antonio Bryant plans to step up his game in an effort to help Tampa Bay's struggling offense, which ranks 26th in the NFL.
Bryant missed most of training camp and all four of Tampa Bay's preseason games due to minor knee surgery. While his knee ailment is a problem of the past, the swelling has been an issue.
In fact, it caused him to miss Tampa Bay's Week 2 contest at Buffalo, and has limited his participation in practice each week.
As a result, Bryant has just 12 catches for 141 yards (11.8 avg.) and one touchdown in four games.
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris was critical of Tampa Bay's wide receivers for dropped passes in the team's 33-14 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday. Bryant and Michael Clayton were guilty of those mistakes.
In an effort to eliminate the drops, help second-year quarterback Josh Johnson and increase the production of Tampa Bay's offense, Bryant plans to change up his treatment.
"Normally I just drain my knee before the game, but I'm going to drain my knee this week and go out and practice," said Bryant. "I know it's important to practice and get the repetitions. It's almost as if when we're not on the field we don't have any consistency, so that's what we're trying to find – something consistent on offense. We need some bread and butter. We don't have that, either. We're just trying to rally the troops up.
"It's been frustrating because the only time I get to be me is on Sundays. That's the only time I get to move, run or anything. I'm going to go ahead and drain my knee today so I can practice because it's important to me. I'm a practice person. I work hard in order to get the results on Sunday. I feel like I'm not getting the results for my team."
Bryant and the Bucs know what he's capable of doing when he's fairly healthy. He caught 83 passes for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns in his Bucs debut last season. That impressive performance earned him Tampa Bay's franchise tag and a $9.88 million salary – the highest on the team.
It will be difficult for Bryant to match that type of production if he can't find a way to get his knee right. He acknowledged that there was a possible downside to having his knee drained during the week as opposed to before games.
"It's going to swell up eventually," said Bryant. "Hopefully when I drain it it doesn't [swell] and I'll be happy. It's just a matter of going out there and putting something in the bank."
Morris said he has seen improvement in Bryant, who was limited in practice Wednesday, in terms of his ability to practice more frequently.
"He got better last week. He was less limited in practice than he had been before," Morris said of Bryant. "I'm hoping to give him a little bit more this week. If that happens you'll see A.B. improve drastically."
Tampa Bay's next opponent – the 1-3 Carolina Panthers – might just be what the doctor ordered for Bryant.
When Tampa Bay and Carolina last met in December, Bryant had a breakout game, hauling in nine passes for 200 yards (22.2 avg.) and two touchdowns.