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
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
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.