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News » Tampa Bay Buccaneers Inside Slant 2008-10-29


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Inside Slant 2008-10-29


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Inside Slant 2008-10-29
For the second time in his career, Bucs safety Jermaine Phillips will be sidelined -- possibly for the rest of the season -- with a forearm fracture.


This time, however, it's his left arm and not the right one that required surgery to repair in 2004.

Coach Jon Gruden said Phillips was undergoing evaluation on Monday. The Bucs are hopeful he can return in 4-6 weeks and have no immediate plans to place him on injured reserve.

"He's had a heck of a season for us, and hopefully it's not serious but we are concerned," Gruden said.

Phillips suffered the injury late in the first half of Sunday's 13-9 loss to the Dallas Cowboys and did not return to the game.

The loss of Phillips for an extended period will be significant for the Bucs. He is second on the team with 58 tackles, trailing only Barrett Ruud's 78. Phillips also has an interception he returned 58 yards and a 38-yard return of a fumble recovery against the Green Bay Packers.

"Jermaine is a tremendous hitter," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "He's been tremendous two years in a row. He's playing really good and he's playing just as good this year as he did last year. He's kind of an unsung hero. When you think of all the safeties around the league, Jermaine Phillips is an elite safety in the NFL. I know good players. But you don't hear enough about these guys. He hustles and he hits and he gets turnovers and stuff like that."

Phillips will be replaced by Sabby Piscitelli, a second-round pick from Oregon State in 2007 who frequently subs at both safety spots. Piscitelli helped the Bucs limit the Cowboys to 102 net passing yards on the day.

"Sabby Piscitelli would obviously have to step up," Gruden said. "There's the resources in our secondary to get that done. It's a big loss for us. He's a heck of a player. He's a big-time player. If he is out, hopefully it's not for long. If he does miss some time we'll go into that secondary room, shake it up a little bit and do our best without him."

Fortunately, the Bucs have some depth at safety. Will Allen has started 24 games from 2005-06. In fact, two years ago, he had 83 tackles during the season.

"So we're going to miss (Phillips)," Kiffin said. "But that's why we drafted Sabby Piscitelli. We need some depth there. Sabby has got to come through for us. We still like Will Allen, so we think we've got four safeties and everyone's got to be ready to rotate now and back up more spots."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 29, 2008

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