TAMPA, Fla. — The Buccaneers are disappointed and hurting, with linebacker Lavonte David, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and pass rusher Noah Spence among key players nursing injuries following the team’s first loss of the season.
David left Sunday’s 34-17 defeat at Minnesota with what initially was believed to be a high left ankle sprain that could have sidelined him for at least a month, however coach Dirk Koetter seemed optimistic Monday that the injury is not as severe as originally feared.
“I think you’re jumping the gun a little bit on Lavonte. It’s not as bad as it looked, No. 1 — and it looked bad,” Koetter said. “X-rays were negative. We don’t know exactly what it is yet, but knock on wood it’s not as bad as it looked or as was previously reported.”
McCoy aggravated a right ankle injury suffered the previous week against Chicago. Spence, a second-year pro who has Tampa Bay’s only sack through two games, dislocated the same shoulder he had a problem with last season.
Defensive end Robert Ayers and cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves III and Ryan Smith also missed portions of the loss to the Vikings, which means an already lengthy injury report figures to be even longer Wednesday, when the Bucs begin preparation for this week’s game against the New York Giants.
Koetter rarely discusses specifics about injuries, but did say he’s hopeful some players already on the report are close to returning.
Three defensive starters — linebacker Kwon Alexander (hamstring), tackle Chris Baker (flu) and cornerback Brent Grimes (shoulder) — were inactive against Minnesota.
With Grimes out and Tampa Bay’s front four unable to generate much of a pass rush, Case Keenum filled in for an injured Sam Bradford and threw for a career-best 369 yards and three touchdowns without an interception for Minnesota.
“Every team has injuries and we are no different,” said Koetter, whose team’s entering a stretch in which it’ll play two home games in five days against the Giants and New England Patriots.
“When you have weaknesses in certain positions, it’s our job as coaches to try to cover up those weaknesses (and) try to play to our strengths,” Koetter said.
“Minnesota did a good job of attacking us and we have to lick our wounds, learn our lessons and move forward.”