The Bucs have been hit hard by the injury bug this season, losing yet another starter in Vincent Jackson (ACL) Tuesday.
Fortunately the team expects to return a few guys in the coming days and one particularly important player on defense was participating Wednesday. Gerald McCoy, who injured his calf in the second quarter of Week 4 and was sidelined last Monday, was back in action for Tampa Bay.
Wide receiver Louis Murphy, recently given a 21-day window to return from reserve/PUP list, and Cecil Shorts, were also back for the first day of preparation for San Francisco. A team that was already in need of depth at wide receiver, the veterans’ return to the field became even more critical for the Bucs offense Tuesday. Both guys said they’re ready to go when cleared and called upon.
“I feel great. I’m still getting used to reppin’ plays,” Murphy said. “You can do all the rehab in the world, but there’s nothing like being out there.”
“Oh yeah, I feel good,” said Cecil Shorts, who left Week 2 in Arizona after pulling his hamstring on his first reception since joining the team in early September. “Just ready to knock the rust off and get going.”
Echoing offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s comments from earlier in the day, Murphy and Shorts spoke of matching Jackson’s consistency, in all facets of the craft, to honor his leadership.
“You can’t replace VJax. He’s a special player; he’s a unique player,” Murphy said. “He brings a lot to the team. My heart and prayers go out to him. I dealt with that last year. I told him to just keep his head up and stay positive and attack rehab. I’m definitely praying for him, he’s like a big brother to me and he’ll definitely be missed.
“When someone goes down, you have to step up and make plays,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be called on all receivers to step up and make plays and put their best foot forward with someone like V Jax going down.”
Added Shorts: “I think I’m just going to go out there and lead by example. I’m still kind of the new guy around here. Go out there, work my butt off and do my best to be consistent in everything I do, which is a big thing that Vince did. He was consistent every single day, every single game. He’s a consistent guy, so just have to go out there and be consistent and set a good example for the other guys.”
The Bucs, as Jameis Winston and Monken said, will also heavily rely on Adam Humphries and newly re-signed Donteea Dye, as well. Luke Stocker, a key blocking tight end who injured his ankle in Week 2, was also practicing for a second straight day.
Moving to the defensive side of the ball, Clinton McDonald (hamstring) and Robert Ayers (ankle), both of whom missed last week, were still absent from practice. More updates to come when head coach Dirk Koetter speaks to the media.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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