Bucs lose RB Williams, LT Petitgout to knee injuries
Williams' injury appears to be more serious. He will undergo an MRI on Monday.
Williams was carted off the field late in the first quarter, while Petitgout limped off early in the second after defensive tackle Kris Jenkins fell into his leg at the line. The injuries didn't immediately hinder Tampa Bay's offense, which finished with 365 yards and had little trouble running the ball in a 20-7 win, but it's unclear whether either player will miss significant time for the NFC South-leading Buccaneers (3-1).
On crutches and wearing a plastic cast after the game, Williams said, according to the St. Petersburg Times: "I don't know what it is. All I know is it's severe."
Coach Jon Gruden said he didn't know the severity of the injuries, though running backs coach Art Valero sounded pessimistic.
"It wasn't your usual [knee] injury. He was in excruciating pain," he said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "You could see it on his face Everyone out there knew one of the great ones in the league -- one of the great kids in the league -- was done."
Just after the game, Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia was ready to move on without the running back.
"He will be missed," Garcia said. "But like Coach said, we need to find a way to regroup and move on. He'll be with us in spirit and support. We'll be supporting him through this rehab process."
Petitgout, who was also scheduled to have an MRI on Monday, was more upbeat.
"I sprained my knee. It's sprained," he said, according to the Times. "I shouldn't be out long. Not long, that's all I know. I've got to get more tests tomorrow."
Williams was hurt after breaking through the right side for an 18-yard gain and taking a hit from safety Chris Harris near the Panthers' bench. The blow forced Williams backward as his right leg bent under him awkwardly, and Williams immediately clutched the knee as he lay on the ground after the play.
Panthers wideout Steve Smith, standing a short distance from Williams on the sideline, immediately started motioning for medical personnel. The entire Tampa Bay team eventually came off their sideline to join Panthers players around the cart as Williams left the field.
Reserve backs Earnest Graham and Michael Pittman picked up the slack for their fallen teammate. Graham broke off an 11-yard run two plays after Williams' injury, and scored on a 1-yard run to finish the drive for a 14-0 lead.
Pittman finished with 90 yards on 15 carries, while Graham finished with 48 yards.
"I came in at halftime and I just put my arms around him," Pittman said of Williams. "I really didn't say, 'It's going to be all right' because it's not all right, really. I know if I was in that situation, I don't want nobody to tell me it's going to be all right. But I think he'll bounce back. He fought through his rib injuries and he's going to fight through this."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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