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Monday, September 24, 2012
Buccaneers have to shuffle at defensive end

By Pat Yasinskas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive front, one of the biggest bright spots this season, has suffered a major blow.

Second-year defensive end Adrian Clayborn will miss the rest of the season after suffering a right knee injury in Sunday’s loss to Dallas, coach Greg Schiano said Monday afternoon.

Clayborn led the Bucs with 7.5 sacks last season and had been joining with end Michael Bennett and tackles Roy Miller and Gerald McCoy to give the Bucs a productive front four this season.

Without Clayborn, the Bucs likely will turn to either George Johnson or Daniel Te’o-Nesheim as the starter opposite Bennett. They also may have to add another defensive end for depth.

"We have some internal alternatives,'' Schiano said. "We just have to work our way through it.''

But there could be a wild-card in all this in a few weeks. Da’Quan Bowers is eligible to begin practicing after the sixth week of the season. Bowers is on the physically unable to perform list after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in the offseason.

The Bucs have said Bowers’ rehabilitation is ahead of schedule. General manager Mark Dominik previously expressed optimism that Bowers, who showed some promise as a rookie, would be able to return later this season.