The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had injury added to insult in a 33-20 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.
Not only did Tampa Bay fall to 0-2 on the season, the Bucs might have lost starting safety Jermaine Phillips, who sustained a broken thumb.
"Jermaine Phillips is the guy we're real concerned with," said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. "He broke his thumb. Our doctor is going to see him again this morning. We'll update you on that with more detail later.
"He's got a broken thumb and he's got to talk to our doctors. I just don't have a feel for what it is or how bad it is."
Phillips, 30, has had an injury-plagued career since joining the Bucs in 2002. He missed 18 games in his first seven years in the NFL, including several due to forearm fractures.
"Jermaine has broken his arm seven times, and it's no different deal," said Morris. "We have to figure it out. As soon as you hear broken thumb, you don't know to what extent it is. I'll let you know as soon as I do."
After starting 72 games at safety, the Bucs moved Phillips to linebacker in defensive coordinator Jim Bates' system this year. However, that experiment was short-lived as the Bucs were forced to move Phillips back to safety when starting FS Tanard Jackson was suspended for the first four games of the 2009 regular season for violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
Jackson isn't eligible to return to action until Tampa Bay's road contest vs. Philadelphia on Oct. 11. In the meantime, the Bucs have two games to play vs. the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, respectively. Should Phillips not be able to play due to the thumb injury, backup S Will Allen, who has 24 career starts under his belt, would fill in for Phillips.
"I've always gone into a game prepared to play and start," said Allen. "Nothing is going to change with me, regardless of Flip's situation."
While Phillips' playing status is unknown, the Bucs do know they will be without starting center Jeff Faine for the second straight game. Morris ruled Faine, who sustained a triceps injury vs. Dallas in Week 1, out of the upcoming contest vs. the Giants.
Sean Mahan started in place of Faine vs. Buffalo. Either he or rookie C Jonathan Compas will start at center vs. the New York Giants.
The Bucs could also be without starting wide receiver Antonio Bryant, who still is nursing a knee ailment and is listed as day-to-day. Bryant underwent minor knee surgery in August, and missed all four of Tampa Bay's preseason games as a result.
"It's not necessarily anything with the surgery," said Bryant. "The surgery went well. As far as playing in the game, it's just a bone bruise where it's colliding with the other bone. You can't heal a bone bruise. It's all about taking hits on it or about the bone colliding with the other bone again. I'm pretty tough, so it's just a matter of letting it heal and taking away that burn.
"I don't know what the timetable is. It's all about the feeling. The best part about it is the pain was sharp at first, but now it's dulled down a bit. I feel better regardless. I want to play. I just don't want to have something that lingers."
Bryant led the Bucs in receptions last year with 83 for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns. That production earned Bryant the franchise tag in the offseason, which came with a $9.88 million salary.
He didn't practice on Thursday of Friday, and was listed as doubtful on the team's injury report. Bryant didn't travel with the team to Buffalo, but he did watch Sunday's game on television.
"It's frustrating regardless just because I know I can help my team win and open up some looks for other guys and help guys move around," said Bryant. "When I can't run I can't go full-speed."
Bucs WR Maurice Stovall started in place of Bryant vs. the Bills. He caught three passes for 80 yards. Rookie WR Sammie Stroughter also contributed one catch for 10 yards. Stovall, Stroughter and Brian Clark will attempt to fill the void left in Tampa Bay's fourth-ranked offense until Bryant can return to action.
"Antonio is a day-to-day deal," said Morris. "It wouldn't shock me if he played this week. It wouldn't shock me if we had to play without him. That's my issue. I listen to the doctors, I let Antonio talk to the doctors about that. Once I get to game day, I put people up and I put people down. I play the people that are up. Yesterday, Maurice Stovall went out there and played well enough for us to win. He gave us an opportunity to win the game. Brian Clark and Sammie Stroughter stepped up to help fill that role. Sammie Stroughter had some big-time opportunities yesterday to help us win, and he almost came up with them. He's that close from being a big-time player. That young man is eager for his next opportunity. That's the kind of player you want to be around."
Morris indicated Monday that Stovall, cornerback Elbert Mack and tight end John Gilmore were banged up in the game vs. Buffalo, but they should be able to play vs. the Giants.