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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed second-year wide receiver Edell Shepherd on injured reserve Wednesday, thus ending his 2004 season before it really had a chance to get started.

Shepherd, who broke his right foot during the second quarter of Monday night’s exhibition game against the Cincinnati Benals, spent the 2003 season on Tampa Bay’s practice squad but was having an impressive offseason and training camp, which makes his season-ending injury hurt even more.

“We’re really sorry about that,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “He’s a great kid. He’s going to be a great football player. He has a chance to be outstanding. It’s a tough blow for us, it’s a tough blow for him and we’ll just have to keep working, doing the best we can in his absence.”

Although Shepherd is out for the year, the Bucs received good news on the injury front when linebacker Jeff Gooch (shin splint), guard Matt Stinchcomb (calf), G Kerry Jenkins (ankle), defensive end Lamar King (undisclosed) and DE Ellis Wyms (undisclosed) returned to practice Wednesday. Wide receiver Charles Lee, who has been sidelined since Aug. 3 with a severe hamstring injury, returned to practice as well, but he was limited.

The Bucs will hold a walk-thru on Thursday before traveling to Jacksonville for Friday night’s preseason game vs. the Jaguars.

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