The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed defensive tackle Anthony McFarland on injured reserve Thursday, ending his 2004 season.

McFarland, 26, missed last Sunday’s game against Atlanta with what had been deemed a triceps strain, but an MRI performed in Alabama showed that “Booger’s” tricep had been partially torn, thus requiring surgery, which is scheduled for Friday, and ending his 2004 campaign.

“I’ve got a torn triceps,” said McFarland. “I was going to spend a couple weeks out and let it heal up. Getting a second opinion, the doctor said that wasn’t going to be the best thing to do, too much risk in that. Obviously, it’s one of those things that you try to avoid, injuries, but they’re part of the game. I’m going to go get it taken care of and I look forward to coming back.

“You’re obviously disappointed. You realize when you play this game that injuries are a part of it. I’ve been unfortunate enough to have some, but injuries are a part of this game. That’s what we signed up for. You can’t sign up for all of the good things if you don’t accept the bad ones, so I accept it, deal with it and move on.”

Since entering the NFL with Tampa Bay in 1999 as a first-round draft pick out of LSU, McFarland has had a somewhat injury-plagued career. In 2001, McFarland’s second year as a starter, he missed two games due to a MCL strain.

In 2002, McFarland missed six regular season games and all three of the Bucs’ post-season contests, including Super Bowl XXXVII, with a fractured right forearm and a fractured right foot.

With McFarland healthy and entering the final year of his contract last season, former Bucs general manager Rich McKay kept him off the free agent market by signing him to a five-year contract extension worth $34 million. The deal included a $9.5 million signing bonus.

Despite suffering several injuries, including his most recent one, McFarland said he’s not worried about being labeled as an injury-prone player.

“The one thing that I know and I think everybody knows is that I know how to play this game of football and I play it at a very high level,” said McFarland. It’s unfortunate that I’ve had a couple injuries, but sometimes you can’t control that. But when I’m on the field I play the game at a very high level. Just ask around the NFL and I think that speaks for itself.”

The injury bug hasn’t just been biting McFarland. The Bucs have now placed seven players on IR this season. That list includes defensive tackles Ellis Wyms and Damian Gregory, who landed on IR before McFarland.

“It’s unfortunate,” McFarland said. “We lose myself, Ellis Wyms, Damian Gregory, all three [of whom are] defensive tackles inside. It’s like I said, injuries are part of the game. When you sign up for it, that’s part of it. It’s unfortunate for us as a team that we’ve had that hit one position so hard. But you can’t complain. You’ve got to move on, and the guys that are there have got to suit up and go win one.”

This season, which was McFarland’s first at the under tackle position, where he replaced Warren Sapp, who left Tampa Bay for Oakland during the offseason via free agency, the 6-foot, 300-pound defensive tackle recorded 28 tackles and three sacks in eight games before sustaining in the season-ending injury against the Kansas City Chiefs on November 7.

McFarland has started 64 of the 78 games he’s played in during his five-year career, recording 251 tackles and 18 sacks.

The Bucs are expected to use Chidi Ahanotu, who re-signed with the team last week, and second-year DL Dewayne White, to fill the void left by McFarland. Nose tackle Chartric Darby could also play some under tackle, and the team is looking at the possibility of signing a free agent defensive tackle.

“We’ve got some flexibility with guys,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “We’re going to keep looking around with the nucleus of players that we have. We’ll make that determination probably sometime Saturday. But Chidi’s going to play the under position and he’ll play the nose, and Darby will play both positions as well.”

OTHER INJURY UPDATES:
After being held out of Wednesday’s workout with a sprained shoulder, quarterback Brian Griese was limited during Thursday’s practice. However, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said Griese will likely be able to play against San Francisco on Sunday.

“He’s alright,” Gruden said. “He didn’t take all the reps but he’s getting better. It looks like he’ll be ready to go.

“He threw the ball, he moved around well and he feels better. He’s feeling better and better every day, every minute, so those are good signs.”

With Griese limited, second-year QB Chris Simms and Brad Johnson split reps in practice Thursday.

“Yeah, Chris took some more reps, and Brad took some turns,” said Gruden. “Chris is coming off a serious injury and with Brian’s situation obviously we’ve got to get three guys ready to play. But he is making some progress. He needs the work. When you’re inactive for a period of five or six weeks, it’s not a real good thing for a quarterback in midseason.”

Safety Dwight Smith was limited for the second consecutive day. John Howell, Will Allen and Dexter Jackson took Smith’s reps in practice Thursday.

“He was very limited today but he’s limited during the week for the last couple weeks, throughout basically this entire season,” Gruden said of Smith. “But he’s going to give it a go and in the meantime it’s been good for John Howell, Will Allen and Dexter Jackson to get some reps.”

The good news for the Bucs is that they were able to upgrade fullback Mike Alstott (knee) to probable.

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