Dunn injured his foot early in the fourth quarter while the Bucs were driving down the field into Minnesota territory. Dunn came out for a few plays, but returned and on his very next carry, scored the Bucs only touchdown of the game. Dunn's score came with a big price tag. Dunn hurt his foot even worse on his way into the end zone and will not be out 3-4 weeks.
"Warrick has the same type of injury Dwight Smith had," said Bucs head coach Tony Dungy. "He'll probably be out about 3-4 weeks."
Rookie CB Dwight Smith suffered a foot sprain in the Bucs preseason finale against the Falcons. He was supposed to be out about three weeks, but the three-week layoff gave him a chance to heal and only missed the season opener at Dallas.
Tampa Bay's offense will sorely miss Dunn. He was not only a weapon in the running game, but was also one of QB Brad Johnson's favorite targets in the passing game as well.
Dunn is coming off of a Pro Bowl season, where he rushed for over 1,000 yards and has 33 carries for 121 yards (3.7 avg.) and 10 receptions for 55 yards through two games this season. Without him, the Bucs offense might have to turn to Pro Bowl FB Mike Alstott to carry the Bucs rushing attack.
Alstott's role has been limited this season due to the emergence of Dunn last season while the A-Train was sidelined with an MCL injury and a hamstring injury he suffered at the beginning of training camp, which kept him sidelined most of preseason.
Alstott has only carried the ball eight times this season for 36 yards (4.5 avg.). He has also seen limited action in the passing game. Alstott has six receptions for 22 yards in two games.
The Buccaneers will face some of the best run defenses in their next three opponents (Packers, Titans and Steelers).
Up to this point, Alstott's role in the Bucs offense was unclear. But now Alstott has a chance to prove he can carry the load by himself as Dunn did last season.
Another option would be keeping Alstott's role the same and turning to RB Aaron Stecker, who was the NFL Europe MVP last season before joining the Bucs. Stecker benefited from not playing over in Europe this offseason. In preseason, Stecker had 31 carries for 100 yards, but played an even bigger role in the passing game. Stecker was on the receiving end of B. Johnson's first touchdown pass as a Buccaneer against the Patriots. Stecker hauled in a total of eight receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns in preseason.
Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen has made it no secret that he wanted to keep both Dunn and Alstott on the field at the same time this season. But now, that is not possible for at least 3-4 weeks. But Christensen could keep two-back set on the field if the Bucs choose to have Stecker fill Dunn's shoes.
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