Tight end Alex Smith and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah were added the growing number of injuries that have began to pile up for the Bucs this season. Smith was carted off the field early in the fourth quarter after suffering a severe ankle injury when his leg got rolled up on and Chukwurah injured his shoulder in the third quarter.
Head coach Jon Gruden said both players had X-rays on their respective injuries and they both came back negative, which is a good sign, but Smith and Chukwurah are questionable for this Sunday's road game vs. the Detroit Lions.
Smith had one reception for 15 yards in the 13-10 victory vs. the Tennessee Titans on Sunday and Gruden is optimistic that the Stanford alum will get to play this week. When the injury happened, it brought back a recent memory of running back Michael Pittman's injury vs. Indianapolis two weeks ago.
"We don't believe it's as serious as Mike Pittman's and he has a chance to play this week," Gruden said. "So all we can do is update you in the coming days."
The third-year tight end is having a productive season in the first six games with 14 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 9.5 yards per catch and has become a favorite target of quarterback Jeff Garcia. In his first two seasons, Smith racked up 76 catches for 617 yards and five touchdowns.
Chukwurah had recently returned to the lineup after suffering a slight tear of his MCL in his knee in the third preseason game vs. the Miami Dolphins. Chukwurah has four tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery, which came against Tennessee, so far this season.
"It's frustrating, but it could be worse," Chukwurah said about returning from his MCL injury. "I'm not out for the season or anything, so that's a blessing."
The six-year veteran recovered a fumble in the second quarter after Tennessee running back Chris Brown dropped the handoff from quarterback Vince Young.
"It was a product of friendly fire," Chukwurah said. "Everyone is trying to play hard and I just got injured."
Chukwurah is also a contributor on special teams. He was signed in the offseason as a free agent after spending four seasons with the Denver Broncos. The Wyoming alum was selected in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, where he played two seasons.
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