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Bucs’ Vincent Jackson may miss several weeks with knee injury

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The Tampa Bay Bucs may be without one of their leading weapons Sunday, and perhaps for several Sundays afterward.

Wide receiver Vincent Jackson missed practice Wednesday with an injured knee, and there are reports that he could be absent for weeks to come.

“We’re not there,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. “He didn’t practice today. He has a knee injury. As far as multiple [weeks], we’re not ready to go into much more detail than that because we don’t know a lot more. [It] hasn’t been that long since the game. [He] wasn’t able to finish the game. [He] wasn’t able to practice today, so that’s where we are at right now.”

Jackson has 21 receptions for 319 yards so far. He is trying to finish with his fifth straight 1,000-yard season. Together with Mike Evans, Jackson makes up perhaps the best unit of the Bucs’ team, and one that has allowed rookie quarterback Jameis Winston to flourish. It could be a major blow if he misses Sunday’s game against Atlanta.

“Vincent is a heck of a player,” said offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. “It’s not going to change our game plan, but if you lose any good player at any position it affects you.”

For much of the game last week, the Bucs were down to two healthy receivers after losing Jackson and Louis Murphy, who is out for the year.

“We don’t know about Vincent, we’re just going to wish for the best,” Winston said. “We know he’s going to work hard and do his best, but guys have to step up. That’s part of being in the NFL. Guys are taken here and being put there. This is how it works and we’re not going to look back. We know Vince, who is one of our leaders, if he cannot play he’s going to help us out more than he possibly could have if he was on the field. He is just that type of guy.”

Fellow receiver Evans knows the attention will shift toward him if Jackson is out.

“I don’t know if he’ll be down (inactive) or not, but if he is, I’m just going to do what I always do – just try to make plays when the ball comes my way and play hard in the run game,” Evans said. “His absence would change a lot. We’re losing one of the best in the game, so now we don’t have that guy to throw it to. He’s a leader for us, he’s a captain. He makes it so much easier for me, even since last year. It’s like having an extra coach out there. But we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”

Jackson was out for much of the time when the Redskins were making their comeback. Contributing was a run on third-and-goal when Charles Simms was thrown for a loss. Instead of clinching the game, the Bucs had to settle for a field goal, which left them one point short when the Redskins scored their winning touchdown.

“OK, everybody get this straight, all right?” Koetter said. “I screwed it up, nobody else. I screwed it up, plain and simple. We got a check play on where we were checking on the goal line based on overload personnel. They had some injuries so they switched some guys around.

“I gave Jameis bad information. 100, 1,000 – whatever number you want to use – percent on me, nobody else. Simple, alright? That simple. Put that to bed. I screwed it up, I got to live with it, feel horrible, I can’t take it back. I did it.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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