TAMPA — It was a difficult week for Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie CB Johnthan Banks, on and off the field.
Banks was diagnosed with a MRSA staph infection after Tampa Bay players returned from the bye week, but he was given the go-ahead to play Sunday against the Eagles.
The NFL announced Saturday night that Banks was cleared.
“We were not part of the decision-making process,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said Sunday. “It was the NFL, the NFL Players Association and a third party, DICON (Duke Infection Control Outreach Network), which evaluated him two days in a row and determined that with antibiotics and the way that everything looked, they cleared him to play. I'm sure the league and the NFLPA wouldn't have put him on the field if they were concerned.''
Banks was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report with an illness. That's the same designation given to G Carl Nicks, whose MRSA has reoccurred on the left foot that was first treated in late August.
Nicks, who missed the first two games of the season, was inactive Sunday.
Banks was credited with five tackles in the 31-20 setback, but he was victimized on two key plays as Nick Foles threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns.
After Philadelphia picked off a Mike Glennon pass early in the second half, former Clearwater Central Catholic standout Riley Cooper beat Banks down the left sideline for a 47-yard scoring catch that put the Eagles ahead for good at 21-17.
With the Eagles clinging to a 21-20 advantage in the fourth quarter, Cooper took a flip in the left flat and eluded Banks' tackle attempt en route to a 44-yard gain. On the next snap, DeSean Jackson grabbed a 36-yard pass for his second touchdown catch of the day.
“Don't nobody ask me nothing about MRSA,'' Banks said after Tampa Bay's sixth consecutive home loss. “Please, I don't got no MRSA. I just showed up to play the game and I felt good out there.''
Small consolation for Bucs WR Jackson
A big game by WR Vincent Jackson was lost in the rubble of Sunday's setback,
Targeted 14 times by QB Mike Glennon, Jackson caught nine balls for 114 yards and two TDs. It was the 21st 100-yard game of Jackson's career and his seventh with more than one scoring reception.
“There's not a lot of positive feeling right now,'' said Jackson, who scored on a 24-yard slant over the middle and a 1-yard fade pass in the left corner over CB Cary Williams. “All I can take away from this game is the fact we do have a young guy at quarterback doing a great job.''
In his second season with the Bucs, the former Chargers standout said it's important to keep Tampa Bay's 0-5 getaway in perspective.
“You've got to love the challenge,'' he said. “You have to embrace it. All I think about is, it's awesome to play in this league. I'm on a great team. I love the city, I love the fan base and I'm going to go out there and fight every game. No matter what our record is, I step out on the field thinking I'm going to win.''
Staying on top
Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy began the day leading the NFL in rushing and total yards from scrimmage.
Then he went out and showed why.
On the game's first snap, McCoy turned a routine screen pass into a 44-yard gain, setting up a touchdown before four minutes had elapsed.
“That was a big play,'' Bucs CB Darrelle Revis said. “That was a drive starter. He fits right into (rookie head coach) Chip Kelly's offense.''
McCoy, however, was hardly finished.
He ran for 116 yards on 25 carries, marking the first time in 14 games the Bucs allowed a 100-yard rusher, and added an 11-yard catch for a first down in another Philadelphia scoring drive.
“McCoy's an incredible talent,'' Bucs LB Jonathan Casillas said. “He does things that people can't do. He makes guys miss. We haven't seen a running back like that in awhile.''