After learning starting safety Jermaine Phillips sustained a broke thumb in Tampa Bay's 33-20 loss to Buffalo Sunday, the Buccaneers' worst fear came to fruition Tuesday when the team placed Phillips on injured reserve, ending his 2009 season.
In addition to that roster move, the Bucs also released S Steve Cargile, who has had a few stints with the team this year. Those roster moves create two open spots on Tampa Bay's 53-man roster. Those spots are expected to be filled by newly acquired players within the next 24 hours.
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.
According to Bucs head coach Raheem Morris, Phillips injured his thumb on the third play of Sunday's game in Buffalo, but continued to play. He is scheduled to undergo surgery this week.
“That injury is more severe than we originally thought,” said Morris. “He has a significant fracture that’s going to require complex surgery to his hand and thumb. That’s tough.”
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 ‘09 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 0-2 Bucs have two games to play vs. the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, respectively.
With Phillips' season over and Jackson's temporarily on hold, the Bucs will turn to backup S Will Allen, who has started 24 games at safety during his six-year career.