On Tuesday, seventh-year G Davin Joseph will once again serve as the point man, along with long-time pal Jeremy Trueblood, for the “Turkey Time with the O-Line” charitable event conducted annually by the Buccaneers’ offensive line. All of Joseph’s fellow blockers, including Buc newcomer Carl Nicks, are involved in the event in some way, from contributing funds to buy the meals that will be passed out to personally greeting those families coming to share in the bounty.
The Buccaneers are thrilled that player such as Joseph and Nicks are committed to helping out in the Bay area community. They would be even more pleased if those two Pro Bowl linemen could be on the field for the final six weeks of the season as the Buccaneers chase a playoff berth.
Alas, fate has intervened, and the team’s all-star blockers are unavailable, having both gone to injured reserve before the season was half over. Joseph was lost to a knee injury in the third game of the preseason while Nicks, after fighting through an extremely painful toe ailment, was shelved after the win over Minnesota in Week Eight.
Those two are currently joined on the Bucs’ injured reserve list by five other Bucs including two defensive starters, defensive end Adrian Clayborn and linebacker Quincy Black. Clayborn was the Buccaneers’ first-round draft pick in 2011, the same offseason that the team re-signed Black to a significant long-term deal.
The Buccaneers’ answer to each of these painful injuries has been to rely on their ‘next man up’ mentality, plugging in a former reserve and simply moving forward. It is, of course, all a team can really do, and the Bucs are certainly to be commended for posting a 6-4 record in spite of those losses. The offensive line, in particular, has somehow managed to stay quite effective, particularly during a six-game stretch in which Tampa Bay has won five times and put up the best offensive numbers in franchise history.
So there is no woe-is-me at One Buccaneer Place (and events like “Turkey Time” also help keep things in perspective). Still, even if there is no woe, it’s hard to look at the numbers and not at least say, “Whoa.” According to numbers compiled by Brian McIntyre of Yahoo! Sports, Tampa Bay has by far the highest amount of its player payroll unavailable on the injured reserve list.
McIntyre points out that, thanks largely to the Joseph and Nicks injuries, the Bucs have $30.1 million of their 2012 payroll on I.R. No other team in the NFL has more than $18 million tied up in the same manner. McIntyre, whose column on Yahoo! is called “Shutdown Corner,” , lists the next four teams on the list as the New York Jets ($17.3 million), the Atlanta Falcons ($14.8 million), the Cincinnati Bengals ($14.5 million) and the Baltimore Ravens ($13.7 million).
The five teams with the last amount of 2012 payroll on injured reserve: Seattle, San Francisco, Minnesota, Chicago and San Diego. Obviously, relatively good health has helped the Seahawks, 49ers and Bears, in particular, get off to strong starts. However, the first list notably includes the 9-1 Falcons and the 8-2 Ravens. Just like the Buccaneers, who have weathered some serious adversity to get on a roll entering the season’s stretch drive, these teams know they have to find a way to keep going even without some of their most valued players in the mix.