Earnest Graham Injury: RB's Ankle Leaves Tampa Bay Bucs with Thin Backfield

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterOctober 23, 2011

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 16: Running back Earnest Graham #34 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes upfield against the New Orleans Saints October 16, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a huge boost from veteran running back Earnest Graham in Week 6. Filling in for the injured LeGarrette Blount against the New Orleans Saints, Graham rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries. Coincidentally, the Bucs won the game, 26-20.

The Bucs were hoping for a similar performance from Graham against the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, but they didn't get so lucky. Graham went down with what the team reported to be an ankle injury. It was immediately determined that he would not return.

At the time Graham left the game, he had 13 yards on two carries. With him out, the Bucs had to turn to Kregg Lumpkin, who ended up with just 15 yards on eight carries, as well as six catches for 37 yards. The Bucs lost, 24-18.

Shortly after the game ended, Pro Football Talk reported that Graham's injury is quite serious:

If this is true, it means the Bucs might lose the 31-year-old Graham for the rest of the season. Needless to say, that would leave them a little thin at the running back position.

The obvious hope now is that Blount will be back sooner rather than later from his knee injury. He first suffered the injury in Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers and has missed Tampa Bay's last two games.

The good news for both Blount and the Bucs is that the team has a bye week in Week 8. That will give Blount an extra week to heal, meaning he could very well be ready to return to action when the Bucs play at the New Orleans Saints in Week 9.

Nonetheless, it stands to reason that the Bucs will have to go out and add a running back some time in the next two weeks. With Graham supposedly out for the foreseeable future, they're going to need more depth than just Blount and Lumpkin, who has minimal NFL experience.

Tiki Barber, anyone?


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