As first reported by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson has sustained a sprained MCL, and may or may not return this season.
The injury comes at an especially bad time for Tampa Bay, a team that is both on the playoff bubble, and also lacks depth at the wide receiver position. Jackson is second on the team in receiving yards, with 533, and third in overall receptions, with 33. Second-year phenom Mike Evans has the definitive lead in both categories, with 889 yards on 57 receptions.
Tampa Bay’s other primary pass-catchers are either tight ends or running backs. Running back Charles Sims is third on the team in receiving yardage, with 393, and tight end Cameron Brate is fourth, with 212. Playing in his second season, tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is fifth on the team in receiving yards, with 201, even though he has only appeared in four games this season. The Buccaneers’ best remaining options at wide receiver opposite Evans appear to be undrafted rookies Adam Humphries (20 receptions, 190 yards, one touchdown) and Donteea Dye (5/42/1). The full list of players to catch passes from Jameis Winston this season can be found here.
At 6-7, Tampa Bay already would have required a series of lucky bounces to surpass current NFC Wild Card-holders the Minnesota Vikings (8-5) and Seattle Seahawks (8-5).