The toughest news to swallow came when Bucs head coach Jon Gruden announced starting nose tackle Anthony McFarland will be out 6-8 weeks with a fractured forearm.
"Anthony McFarland has a right forearm fracture," said Gruden. "He'll be out for about 6-8 weeks. That's a terrible blow for our football team and a terrible blow for the Buccaneers. We'll be optimistic that maybe he can return quicker than that. Knowing Todd Toriscelli (football trainer), we hope to have Anthony back before that. This is a break in his forearm that will cause him to miss some action."
The Bucs are obviously concerned about McFarland's injury and the length of time he's expected to miss, but Gruden said the team's defense, which is ranked No. 1 in the league, is confident backup DT Chartric Darby will step up in "Booger's" absence.
"If you watched (Chartric) Darby play yesterday there's some optimism," said Gruden."
Bucs backup DE/DT Ellis Wyms will also see playing time at the nose tackle spot.
The Buccaneers will be without rookie linebacker Ryan Nece for the remainder of the 2002 season. He suffered a ruptured ACL. Nece's injury affects both Tampa Bay's special teams unit and depth at the linebacker position.
"Our young linebacker Ryan Nece has a left ACL rupture and he's going to be out for the season," said Gruden.
Tampa Bay has another injured player on its special teams unit. Bucs long snapper Ryan Benjamin, who played in just his second game with the team Sunday, strained his hamstring and will be questionable for this Sunday's game against Minnesota.
"Ryan Benjamin, our long snapper, has a hamstring strain and he's questionable for this game," said Gruden. "He did a great job yesterday given the fact that he was injured. He threw some key strikes back there to (Martin) Gramatica in critical situations."
Bucs starting left guard Kerry Jenkins suffered a fractured orbital after being poked in the eye during Sunday's game. He will also be questionable for the Bucs' game against the Vikings.
"Kerry Jenkins fractured his left orbital and he was obviously unable to return yesterday," said Gruden. "He'll be very questionable for this game."
If Jenkins is unable to play Sunday, backup C/G Todd Washington will start in his place.
In addition to those injuries, the Bucs are very concerned about the injuries they sustained at the wide receiver position.
Bucs WR Joe Jurevicius, who started in place of Keenan McCardell (fractured scapula) Sunday, went down with a sprained ankle in the second half and could not return to action.
"Joe Jurevicius was unable to finish the game yesterday," said Gruden. "He has an ankle sprain and he's going to be very questionable for this game."
The Bucs are also concerned about WR Keyshawn Johnson's lower foot contusion, which he suffered against Carolina Sunday. The team is awaiting an MRI result before determining the extent of his injury.
"Keyshawn Johnson has a lower foot contusion that we're gaining information on at this time," said Gruden."
Gruden said some of the team's other receivers may get playing time Sunday depending on how the injured receivers progress through the week.
"Reggie Barlow and Karl Williams are two guys that played a lot yesterday," said Gruden. "Charles Lee is a guy on our football team and he's a guy that we may have to activate and lean on to make plays for us. Who knows? We'll see the official status starting with Keenan McCardell and Joe Jurevicius tomorrow. We'll see where Keyshawn (Johnson) is after we get the results of his MRI."
Tampa Bay second-string QB Rob Johnson, who started in place of Brad Johnson (fractured rib and stomach virus), suffered his own injury Sunday. Rob Johnson will be questionable this week with a strained gluteal (buttocks).
"Rob Johnson has a gluteal strain, which is in the buttocks area," said Gruden. "We'll list him as questionable although we expect him to play."
McCardell and Brad Johnson will remain listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
"Brad Johnson and Keenan McCardell are making some progress," said Gruden. "Brad was very ill yesterday and couldn't have played even if had healthy ribs. He had some sort of a stomach ailment. We'll leave Brad and Keenan very questionable for the game."
While Tampa Bay came home from Carolina in bad shape in terms of health, the Bucs will try to overcome those injuries Sunday against the 2-5 Vikings. The Pewter Pirates have a bye week after its game against Minnesota, but they certainly could've used it a week early.
"(The injuries) are very deflating," said Gruden. "But at the same time, it's part of football.
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