The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost another wide receiver to injury Sunday when Frank Murphy, who was also serving as the team’s primary kickoff returner, ruptured his Achilles’ tendon.

Murphy, who had returned eight kickoffs for 208 yards (26.0 avg.) and had a long of 54, will undergo surgery and be placed on injured reserve on Wednesday.

The Bucs are in the process of finding Murphy’s replacement. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden said several players are being considered for the job, including running back Jamel White, cornerback Torrie Cox, WR Marcus Knight and practice squad players RB Earnest Graham and WR DeAndrew Rubin.

Murphy is the third wide receiver the Bucs will place on injured reserve this season. Edell Shepherd (foot) and Sylvester Morris (hamstring) were placed on IR before the regular season started.

The Bucs are also without the services of receivers Joey Galloway (groin), Joe Jurevicius (back) and Keenan McCardell (holdout). Gruden remains optimistic that all three of those players will return at some point this season.

“I yell at Galloway and Jurevicius on the sideline during games,” Gruden said. “Galloway’s feeling better. He’s feeling much better. Joe Jurevicius is running patterns. He’s looking better, but I don’t think it will be this week.”

Galloway was injured in Week 1 and was scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks. Jurevicius was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the beginning of the regular season, which means he won’t be eligible to return until Week 6. Unless he’s traded or released, McCardell will likely end his holdout by no later than Week 11 in order to have this year count as an accrued season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are off to a 0-4 start for the first time since 1996. The best record any 0-4 Bucs team ever finished a season with was 6-10, and only one team in NFL history (1992 San Diego Chargers) has started a season 0-4 and went on to make the playoffs.

Despite history being against his team’s chances of turning around their season, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden suggested Monday that the Bucs have not thrown in the towel on the season. He’s using the 2002 Oakland Raiders, who lost four straight games and still managed to make an appearance in the Super Bowl that same year, as an example of a team that overcame adversity.

“You always think you can turn it around,” said Gruden. “A couple years ago I saw a team lose four straight games and get into the Super Bowl, and lose the Super Bowl, but I saw them get in the Super Bowl. We thought we were very close to turning it around yesterday, quite honestly. We’re going to continue to meet as a staff and try to develop our young players and used good judgment. Try to win a football game and do what’s best for our team.”

Gruden doesn’t look want to dwell on what 0-4 teams haven’t been able to accomplish in the past. Instead, he’s focused on what the Bucs can do with 12 games remaining in the regular season.

“The psyche of the Bucs is not great,” said Gruden. “I don’t give a damn about who’s done what in recent history. We are going to be what we are. We are going to be what we become. We’ll get what we deserve. Whether we end up 12-4 or 11-5, I don’t know what we’ll end up, but I do know we are looking for our first win and I am proud of these guys for competing. We have to help them more as a staff and we think we will do that this week.”

One quarter of the 2004 regular season is in the books. The Bucs are hoping to fare better during the second quarter of the season, which starts Sunday in New Orleans.

“You have to break it down into quarters, four quarters a season,” said Gruden. “You are 0-4 which has been well said. It should be underlined and stated clearly over and over again that we are 0-4 for the first quarter of the season. The second fourth quarter of the season gives you a new opportunity. You have to take one game at a time. There are a couple of plays here and there in a football game from winning or losing every Sunday. Unfortunately, we have not yet found with team to get it done. Next week, in New Orleans it starts a new season, a new quarter, we can get the ‘W’ there and we will see what happens.”

Although its defense ranks 6th overall in the NFL, Tampa Bay’s defense has had a tough time applying pressure on opposing teams’ quarterbacks this season.

Sunday was a perfect example of that. Not only did the Bucs not sack Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, but they didn’t create any turnovers, either.

The Bucs defense has notched six sacks in four games, but Bucs head coach Jon Gruden suggested Monday that his offense, which ranks 26th overall and has scored just 39 points this season, needs the defense to come up with some more big plays.

“You never feel like you are getting enough pressure on the quarterback,” Gruden said when asked about Tampa Bay’s lack of pressure on Plummer. “Denver did not go back and throw the ball very much. A lot of their passes were of the naked bootleg origin. Plummer is faking a stretch play and he is dashing to the right. It’s not in typical launching spot were you can zoom-in on where you can get him. They threw in the variety of different positions yesterday. Partly to the fact the type of quarterback Jake Plummer is. We are never satisfied even on the great days with the pressure. We live and die on the turnovers and the impact plays on defense. I think we need to make more.”

Head coach Jon Gruden on the lack of draft picks the Bucs have had over the past several seasons:

“I know when you start talking like that you get into the finger pointing and all that stuff. The reality is that it is a problem. When you lose draft picks for whatever reason, draft picks that aren’t here that were maybe drafted and guys have not performed the standards that were expected. If you combined that with the salary cap issue, it is a problem. This football team, I will say it loud and clear to our players, this football team has played well enough to win at least two or three games this season. Despite all the mis-comings, the adversities, hurricanes, and all the things that have happened here. We have played well enough to win and that’s the most frustrating thing. I’m proud of our guys for doing that, and at the same time we have to break though and get a win here.”

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