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Bucs place four starters -- including top rookies O.J. Howard, Justin Evans -- on IR

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed first-round draft pick O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, offensive guard J.R. Sweezy and linebacker Adarius Glanton on injured reserve.

Evans, Howard, Sweezy and Glanton were among the 10 Bucs who suffered injuries during the team's 24-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.

Howard, who started all 14 games this year, was hit in the ankle by cornerback Brian Poole as he was crossing the goal line on his 30-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter, his sixth touchdown of the season. Howard's six receiving touchdowns are tied with New York Giants tight end Evan Engram for the most by a rookie this season (all positions) and are tied for sixth-most in the NFL among tight ends.

Evans, the Bucs' second-round draft pick in 2017, twisted his left ankle in the first half. He finishes his season with three interceptions -- tied for the most on the team and third among NFL rookies. He also had 65 tackles, tied for third-most on the team.

"We're really happy with that rookie class," said head coach Dirk Koetter. "It's unfortunate to lose any player due to injury and -- knock on wood -- we've been fortunate for the most part, but we had a flurry in this game for whatever reason."

Sweezy left with a lower leg injury in the second quarter, and Glanton suffered a fractured tibia and fibula and had to undergo surgery Tuesday morning. Their injuries were previously reported as season-ending on Tuesday.

Hargreaves, the Bucs' first-round draft pick in 2016, had been out for five weeks with a hamstring injury. He had attempted to return to practice last week on a limited basis but suffered a setback with the injury.

Koetter said that he does not believe that surgery will be required for Howard, Evans, Sweezy or Hargreaves.

"You hate to lose anyone, putting five guys on IR,” Koetter said. “When you put players that are good football players down, it hurts your football team. On the same token, it gives the next man up an opportunity to show what we can do."

The Bucs signed offensive lineman Adam Gettis and cornerback David Rivers, while promoting linebacker Nigel Harris, safety Isaiah Johnson and defensive lineman Channing Ward from the practice squad. They then added Austin Johnson, wide receiver Devin Lucien and offensive lineman Avery Young to the practice squad.