TAMPA – Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams’ hamstring is torn, he told The Tampa Tribune on Friday.
Williams, who signed a six-year, $40.25 million contract in July, with $9.4 million guaranteed, first injured his hamstring in Week 4 against Arizona.
After Tampa Bay returned from the bye week, Williams was inactive against the Eagles, the first missed game of his four-year NFL career. Williams returned at Atlanta on Sunday, catching four passes for 32 yards, and added three receptions for 20 yards Thursday night in a 31-13 loss against Carolina.
Since Williams hurt his hamstring Sept. 29, his longest catch is 14 yards. For the season, Williams ranks second on the Bucs to Vincent Jackson with 22 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
His season average of 9.8 yards per reception is well below his career average (13.3) and Williams averaged 64 catches per year in his first three pro seasons.
“He has a condition,’’ Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “It’s just a matter of can he play with it?’’
Other Bucs are also nursing injuries, including TE Tom Crabtree (ankle), S Keith Tandy (ankle), rookie CB Johnthan Banks (hip) and LB Dekoda Watson (shoulder).
The defense rests
After yielding an average of 17.5 points in four September games, Tampa Bay has allowed 31 points in each of the past three matchups.
The surging Panthers rolled up 21 first downs and 324 yards, converting 5-of-12 third-down situations while mobile QB Cam Newton threw for two scores and ran for another.
“The two previous games, it was about balls going over our head,’’ Schiano said. “(Thursday) night, it was about loss of leverage on a scrambling quarterback. We had three sacks and we missed six other opportunities to sack the quarterback.
“We just need to keep the proper leverage. Granted, we’re not going to make all six of those, because he’s an incredible athlete. But it sure helps when we approach it from the proper leverage because you’re forcing him back into other folks. That, I think, was the biggest breakdown on defense (Thursday) night.”
An 0-7 start and 12 losses in 13 games has Schiano considering some changes heading into next week’s matchup at Seattle.
“I think the biggest thing is you look at what are you doing well,’’ Schiano said. “There’s a lot of games that, early on, we believe we should have won. What did we do well to put us in a position to win? What did we do in these last three games where it wasn’t as tight of a game, or at least this last one? Take what you do well, build on it.
“Things you’re not doing well, either cut them out, because you just can’t do them this year, or, how are you going to fix them, how are you going to make them better? That’s what we have to do a good job of this weekend.’’
Players will return to work on Monday, awaiting a game plan designed to generate a major upset.
“This has been brutal and frustrating,’’ said Tampa Bay’s leading tackler, OLB Lavonte David. “We’ve got a lot of talent in this room and we’re wondering what we’re doing wrong. But everybody’s tight and sticking together and we have great character.
“Are we being tested? Yes we are, but nobody’s quitting.’’