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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs WR Louis Murphy done for rest of season

Louis Murphy is under contract for 2017 and due to make $2-million, but his injury status would make him a question mark moving forward.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Louis Murphy is under contract for 2017 and due to make $2-million, but his injury status would make him a question mark moving forward.

Bucs receiver Louis Murphy's 2016 season will come and go without him playing a single snap.

Murphy, 29, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his knee last November, returned to the practice field three weeks ago, only to suffer an unrelated setback after only two practices. On Monday, the 21-day window the Bucs had to activate him to the 53-man roster ended, and he was placed on the physically unable to play/reserve list, ending his season.

"Louis Murphy is going to revert back to injured-PUP," coach Dirk Koetter said Monday, adding that an official release would go out later in the day.

Murphy, who played at Lakewood and at Florida, had 41 catches for 578 yards and two touchdowns in 2014-15 with the Bucs. He's under contract for 2017 and due to make $2-million, but his injury status would make him a question mark for whether he stays in the Bucs' plans moving forward.

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Bucs sign WR Josh Huff to practice squad

The Bucs signed Josh Huff to their practice squad today, one week after he was arrested on gun and marijuana charges in New Jersey.

AP photo

The Bucs signed Josh Huff to their practice squad today, one week after he was arrested on gun and marijuana charges in New Jersey.

Josh Huff said he felt "fortunate and blessed" to be given another chance with the Bucs one week after his arrest on gun and marijuana charges in New Jersey led to his release by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Huff was signed to the Bucs practice squad Monday and spent extra time after practice running routes and catching passes from Jameis Winston.

The Bucs are expected to have an opening on their 53-man roster they have not filled with defensive end Howard Jones headed to injured reserve. Standing at his new locker and shaking hands with new teammates, Huff spoke about getting a fresh start in Tampa Bay.

"You live and you learn, man," Huff said. "Obviously, I’m mad I put myself in that situation. But you live and you learn but I’m excited to be here and excited to get going and get used my new teammates and players around here and get used to the staff.

"I’m very blessed. But at the same time I know mistakes happen, lessons are learned and I’m ready to move forward from that and start a new home in Tampa." …

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RBs Martin, Rodgers still out as Bucs return to practice

Doug Martin, out since Week 2 with a hamstring injury, was absent from Monday's practice.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Doug Martin, out since Week 2 with a hamstring injury, was absent from Monday's practice.

For fans excitedly hoping that the Bucs could get Doug Martin or Jacquizz Rodgers back at running back this week, Monday's bonus practice for Tampa Bay offered no such promising news.

Martin, out since Week 2 with a hamstring injury, and Rodgers, out with a foot injury since the Raiders loss eight days ago, were both absent from Monday's practice. The only running backs in attendance were Mike James, signed less than a week ago, and rookies Peyton Barber and Russell Hansbrough. Hansbrough was promoted from the practice squad Monday to replace veteran Antone Smith, who had a season-ending knee injury in Thursday's loss to the Falcons. …

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Bucs players say they need break to 'get our minds right'

Just as the Bucs had a short turnaround Thursday with only four days between home losses to the Raiders and Falcons, they have 10 days before a home game against the Bears, and part of that is a long weekend away from football tryiing to reset as they try to bounce back from two frustrating losses.

"Hopefully this weekend, we get our minds right, get it together and fix whatever we need to fix and get back to action," David said Thursday after a 43-28 loss. "Guys are trying. The only think is getting to try harder. That's all there is to it. We're going to take this weekend to regroup, get back on Monday with an extra day to fix whatever needs to be fixed, get back to the drawing board. Things are going to change."

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said the back-to-back losses after the team had gotten consecutive road wins at Carolina and San Francisco to get to 3-3 call for some "soul searching" by Bucs players during the weekend off. …

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Johnthan Banks on Bucs' constant turnover: 'It kind of gets old'

I'm a few days behind on this, but former Bucs cornerback Johnthan Banks, relegated to special teams this season and finally traded Tuesday to the Lions, talked to reporters in Detroit about why things didn't work out for him in Tampa after starting all but two games in his first two NFL seasons.

Banks lost his starting job and eventually wasn't even a special teams player, inactive for his last two games with the Bucs. He had respect for head coach Dirk Koetter and the Glazer family, but said the constant turnover -- three head coaches, three defensive coordinators and three defensive backs coaches in his four season -- didn't help him.

"It's tough to adjust every year," Banks told MLive.com on Wednesday before his first practice with the Lions. "I mean, Tampa is a great place. I respect (Koetter), I respect the Glazers. I think they have a fine organization. But every year, when you get a new defense, a new defensive coordinator, new defensive backs coach, everybody wants to mold you and twist you and turn you into this player and that player. It kind of gets old. You lose your fire for the game, and it's frustrating." …

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Koetter: RB Antone Smith, DE Howard Jones done for season

Antone Smith, who rushed five times for 25 yards and caught three passes for 27 yards Thursday, is the fourth Bucs running back to go down with an injury.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Antone Smith, who rushed five times for 25 yards and caught three passes for 27 yards Thursday, is the fourth Bucs running back to go down with an injury.

The Bucs' injury problems this season have been concentrated at two positions -- running back and defensive end -- and that continued Thursday as RB Antone Smith and DE Howard Jones suffered season-ending knee injuries in the loss to the Falcons, coach Dirk Koetter said.

Both were on crutches in the locker room after the game, and the Bucs have already exhausted their depth at both positions but will have to add new players over the weekend as they prepare for next Sunday's home game against the Bears.

"Unfortunately, Antone suffered a significant injury, and I think that will probably be a season-ending injury, it looks like, and it will be the same for Howard Jones," Koetter said.

Smith, who rushed five times for 25 yards and caught three passes for 27 yards Thursday, is the fourth Bucs running back to go down with an injury. Doug Martin has been out since Week 2 with a hamstring, Charles Sims was placed on injured reserve after injuring his knee in Week 4, and Jacquizz Rodgers hurt his foot in Week 8; all three missed Thursday's game. The Bucs could promote RB Russell Hansbrough from the practice squad, but could also seek a more experienced replacement from elsewhere. …

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Defense wilts again as Falcons rout Bucs, 43-28

TAMPA -– For the second time in five days, the Bucs and their thoroughly exhausted defense watched a quarterback and a touted receiver slice and dice them like a gadget on one of those late night infomericials.

This time it was the Falcons' Matt Ryan and Julio Jones who cut them up in a 43-28 win over Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium. Ryan passed for 344 yards and four touchdowns, giving him an NFL-leading 23 on the season.

It wasn’t much better than what Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Amari Cooper did to them on Sunday, when the Bucs allowed 513 yards passing and four scores.

The only difference was it happened before a national television audience and with the Bucs in their red "Color Rush" uniforms, which came to resemble little droplets of blood the way the defense was being dissected.

By the time Jones made a ridiculous leaping, toe-tapping catch in the end zone over rookie Vernon Hargreaves with 3:02 left in the third quarter, they should’ve called the game. Jones had eight catches for 111 yards and the TD.

The Bucs were not only completely gassed, they resembled a team looking for a nice four-day weekend off on the beach. …

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Injuries piling up for Bucs after loss to Falcons

Antone Smith, being comforted by Michael Irvin, was also on crutches after injuring his left knee during the game.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Antone Smith, being comforted by Michael Irvin, was also on crutches after injuring his left knee during the game.

Injuries have already impacted the Bucs' season, especially at running back and defensive line, but another wave of injuries suffered in Thursday's loss to the Falcons could force more roster moves in the next week.

The biggest names who were injured Thursday -- QB Jameis Winston left the game with a knee injury and LB Kwon Alexander was sidelined with a stinger -- do not look to be injuries that would carry over to next weekend's home game against the Bears. Winston said his knee was fine, and Alexander said he wouldn't miss any games. WR Mike Evans took a nasty hit on the sidelines and was being evaluated for a concussion after the game, but it's unknown whether that will carry over to a game in 10 days.

Other injuries, however, appear to be potentially significant:

-- DE Howard Jones, a reserve used mostly as a nickel pass-rusher, had his left knee in a full brace and was on crutches after the game. The Bucs have already lost George Johnson (hip) and Jacquies Smith (knee) to season-ending injuries this season, with Robert Ayers just returning last week after missing four games. …

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Bucs defense: NFL's 4th-worst 2-game stretch in 50 years

If you watched the Bucs' two losses over the last five days, first in giving up a franchise-record 626 yards to the Raiders, then another 461 on Thursday to the Falcons, you may have wondered: Just how bad is this two-game stretch, historically?

The answer? Extremely bad.

The Bucs have given up 1,087 yards of total offense in a two-game span -- in the last 50 years, out of all the games played by all teams, that's the fourth-worst two-game total. Fourth-worst, in a span that close to 10,000 games.

The only worse two-game stretches? The Bills gave up 1,201 against the Patriots and 49ers in 2012. The Falcons gave up 1,107 to the Chiefs and Broncos in 2004. The Redskins gave up 1,091 to the Bills and Cardinals in 1996. That's it, in the entire Super Bowl era.

Most passing yards in a two-game stretch? The Bucs gave up 513 to Oakland's Derek Carr, then another 344 to Atlanta's Matt Ryan on Thursday. That's 857, and taking away yards from sacks, that's a combined 823 passing yards allowed. That's the seventh-highest two-game stretch in 50 years. Congrats to the 2014 Colts, who gave up 871 -- 522 to Ben Roethlisberger and 349 to Eli Manning. …

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Rookie Peyton Barber to start at RB for Bucs vs. Falcons

The Bucs are starting rookie Peyton Barber at running back in tonight's game against the Falcons.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

The Bucs are starting rookie Peyton Barber at running back in tonight's game against the Falcons.

Here's the answer you've been waiting for all week: The Bucs are starting rookie Peyton Barber at running back in tonight's game against the Falcons.

Barber is the Bucs' fourth starting running back in eight games, with Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers all still sidelined by injuries. Barber rushed for 84 yards in the Bucs' win at the 49ers two weeks ago, including a 44-yard touchdown, but barely played in Sunday's loss to the Raiders, logging only three snaps.

Expect the Bucs to still use veteran Antone Smith plenty tonight, especially as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Mike James rejoined the team on Tuesday and could see action as well, but he hasn't been with the team in two months and hasn't had a touch in an NFL game in nearly two years.

The Bucs had Martin and Rodgers inactive, along with two other injured players in DT Clinton McDonald (hamstring) and WR Russell Shepard (hip). Rookie offensive linemen Caleb Benenoch and Leonard Wester are inactive, as usual, as is No. 3 QB Ryan Griffin.

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Bucs rule out DT Clinton McDonald for Thursday; WR Shepard doubtful

Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald will miss a fourth straight game with a hamstring injury, the team announced Wednesday in ruling him out for Thursday night's home game against the Falcons.

As expected, RBs Doug Martin (hamstring) and Jacquizz Rodgers (foot) are also out for the game, which leaves the Bucs with three backups for Thursday in veteran Antone Smith, rookie Peyton Barber, and Mike James, who was signed to the roster Tuesday.

There's encouraging progress for DE Will Gholston, who suffered a biceps injury Sunday but was upgraded to full participation Wednesday and is listed as "questionable;" less so for WR Russell Shepard, who has been limited by a hip injury and is officially doubtful, which translates to "unlikely to play." It's possible the Bucs will have to elevate Donteea Dye from the practice squad to have five healthy receivers for Thursday's game.

The Falcons will be without three injured players Thursday in RB Tevin Coleman (who had 95 receiving yards against the Bucs in Week 1), TE Jacob Tamme (their leading receiver in the first Bucs game) and DE Dwight Freeney.

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So who exactly is at running back for Bucs on Thursday?

Antone Smith had the biggest role Sunday, playing 22 snaps in relief of Rodgers and getting four carries for 16 yards.

AP photo

Antone Smith had the biggest role Sunday, playing 22 snaps in relief of Rodgers and getting four carries for 16 yards.

With the Bucs now trying to establish a run game without their top three running backs -- Doug Martin out since Week 2, Charles Sims since Week 4 and now Jacquizz Rodgers sidelined with a sprained foot -- the question for Thursday's game against the Falcons is this: Who's going to run the ball?

The Bucs aren't saying, but they have three running backs to choose from -- veteran Antone Smith, signed two weeks ago off the street; undrafted rookie Peyton Barber, waived and signed back in Week 1, and Mike James, who was waived-injured in Week 1 and signed back on Tuesday from the Lions practice squad. …

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Bucs get 2018 7th-rounder from Lions for CB Banks

Johnthan Banks started 30 of 32 games in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, getting seven interceptions, but the former second-round pick lost his starting job and was even inactive for the last two games.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Johnthan Banks started 30 of 32 games in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, getting seven interceptions, but the former second-round pick lost his starting job and was even inactive for the last two games.

A day after the Bucs had indicated they were waiving CB Johnthan Banks, they found a taker, getting a 2018 seventh-round pick from the Lions on Tuesday.

The Bucs didn't file the transaction with the league office on Monday -- head coach Dirk Koetter declined to address the addition of RB Mike James, even though his locker was hanging from a jersey in the locker room -- and by waiting until Tuesday, they found a trade partner. Detroit would have a chance to get Banks on waivers, but were at risk of a team with a worse record claiming him first as he went through waivers.

Banks had no choice over where he was landing either way, unless he had cleared waivers and only then become a free agent. The Bucs have had better luck under general manager Jason Licht with undrafted rookies than with seventh-round picks, but it allows them to get one more player near the end of the draft.

Banks will be reunited in Detroit with cornerback Darius Slay, who played with him in college at Mississippi State. Banks started 30 of 32 games in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, getting seven interceptions, but the former second-round pick lost his starting job and was even inactive for the last two games.

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Gholston, Shepard join list of Bucs battling injuries

Will Gholston, left, is dealing with a biceps injury suffered in Sunday's loss to the Raiders.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Will Gholston, left, is dealing with a biceps injury suffered in Sunday's loss to the Raiders.

A short turnaround before Thursday's home game against Atlanta means limited time to recover from injuries, and the Bucs have two more players who could be sidelined in DE Will Gholston and WR Russell Shepard.

Gholston, the only Bucs starting defensive lineman not to miss a game this season, is dealing with a biceps injury suffered in Sunday's loss to the Raiders -- he had limited use of his right arm but played through the injury the rest of the way Sunday. Shepard, who has caught touchdowns in each of the last two games, is listed as having a hip injury -- he was leveled on a throw across the middle that saw Raiders safety Karl Joseph penalized 15 yards for a helmet-to-helmet hit. …

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Cannon Fodder podcast: Previewing Bucs-Falcons

Russell Shepard pulls in a touchdown catch during the second quarter of the Bucs' loss to the Raiders.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Russell Shepard pulls in a touchdown catch during the second quarter of the Bucs' loss to the Raiders.

Tampa Bay Times beat reporters Greg Auman and Rick Stroud review the Bucs' overtime loss to the Raiders and look ahead to Thursday's game against the first-place Falcons in our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

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