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Casillas Likely Done for the Season

Posted Dec 2, 2013

There's a good chance LB Jonathan Casillas will be the latest Buccaneer to land on I.R., which will lead to a change in the starting defense…CB Darrelle Revis' chest injury, however, does not appear serious

For all of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' injury misfortune in 2013 – and certainly they're not the only NFL team that has endured its share – the team did not lose any defensive starters to injured reserve during the first three quarters of the season.  Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that will be true much longer.

The season is probably over for Jonathan Casillas, the Buccaneers' starting strongside linebacker and a valuable acquisition in free agency this past spring.  In addition to his work on defense, which includes 24 tackles, one stop for loss, two passes defensed and a forced fumble, Casillas is also the team's leading special teams tackler.  Casillas had six tackles on defense and one more stop in the kicking game on Sunday in Carolina before suffering the knee injury that will most likely send him to injured reserve.

Head Coach Greg Schiano stopped short of saying that a trip to I.R. is definite for Casillas, but he didn't seem to hold out much hope that the fifth-year linebacker would be able to avoid season-ending knee surgery.  Thus, Casillas could become the 14th Buccaneer to land on injured reserve this season, but the first who has started a game on Tampa Bay's defense.

"[He] may be done for the season, we’ll have to see," said Schiano. "If he needs surgery, that will be it for the season; it probably looks that way right now."

Fortunately, it does not look as if Casillas will be joined on the sideline by starting left cornerback Darrelle Revis, who missed the last five minutes of the third quarter and the entire fourth period Sunday after suffering a chest/shoulder injury.  Revis nearly intercepted a pass intended for wide receiver Steve Smith on the play but then apparently was hurt as he hit the ground.

"I think [he] is going to be okay," said Schiano on Monday.  "Initially he came off the field, had some pain in his upper torso area and then they examined him inside.  I don’t think it’s real serious, but we’ll see."

Revis, who has played every game this season after coming back from a season-ending knee injury suffered in September of 2012, has missed time in the last two games due to a groin injury and Sunday's mishap.  It's not unusual, of course, for an NFL player to accumulate injuries near the end of a season, but Schiano doesn't think Revis will be limited by his recent ailments if he is indeed cleared to play against Buffalo next Sunday.

-- In addition to starting at SLB, J. Casillas is the Bucs' leading tackler on special teams
“I think he’ll be effective," said the coach. "He’s not only a great player but he’s a pro, he’s a warrior, and he’ll fight through whatever discomfort he has to play, if he can play.”

As for Casillas, he took over as the starting strongside linebacker about a month into the season, after the team initially gave that job to Dekoda Watson.  Watson – another ace on special teams – subsequently transitioned into more of a rush-end role and has recently seen an increase in his playing time in that role.  Moving Watson back to the strongside linebacker spot is now an option for the Buccaneers, but not the only one.  The team could also try versatile veteran Adam Hayward, who started the Detroit game at middle linebacker while Mason Foster was out with a concussion, or take a look at undrafted rookie Ka'Lial Glaud.

"I've just got to be ready for whatever I'm called on to do," said Watson, who has started three games over the course of four seasons since the Bucs drafted him in the seventh round in 2010.  "You've got to understand, when your number is called on, no matter who you are, you've got to be ready to go.  That's why it's so vital for anybody who's second-team, third-team, fourth-team, whatever the situation may be, you've got to be ready to go.  If somebody goes down, you're the starter now."

Glaud started the season on Tampa Bay's practice squad but was promoted to the active roster after nine weeks and has played in each of the last four weeks, primarily on special teams.  On Sunday against the Panthers he got his first handful of regular-season defensive snaps at the very end of the game.

"It felt kind of good to get into an NFL game, but we took a loss so it wasn't as exciting as it would have been," said Glaud, who finished with three tackles and another stop on special teams.

As of Monday, Glaud wasn't sure if he would see any increased playing time with Casillas out, but he was aware that the team had a couple of options to consider.

"I know we have a lot of guys, like Adam Hayward, who's a really good veteran," said Glaud.  "He has a lot of experience at every position.  I'm just going to keep my head going forward and do whatever the team needs me to do.  If there is an opportunity, I'm going to take full advantage of it.  I'm just going to continue to come to practice and work, and if my number is called I'm going to make sure I'm ready."
Game Rewind: Tampa Bay Buccaneers