Injury woes continue for Lions as Tucker goes on IR

An already beleaguered Detroit Lions offensive line took another hit Thursday when the team placed starting right tackle Rex Tucker on injured reserve with a left leg injury.

Tucker, 29, is the second starting lineman to go on injured reserve, joining guard Damien Woody. The Lions have been forced to shuffle their line on a near-weekly basis in 2006 and, because of the injuries with which Tucker had to deal, have already started three different players at right tackle.

An eight-year veteran who signed with the Lions this spring as a free agent, Tucker missed time in camp with a sprained left knee. He subsequently sustained a fracture at the bottom of the same knee during a September practice session and finished the season with only six appearances and five starts.

Although he was able to start the past four games, Tucker became increasingly ineffective as his leg grew weaker, and he was replaced twice in the team's Thanksgiving Day loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Coach Rod Marinelli said Tucker's left leg simply could not hold up any longer.

A third-round choice of the Chicago Bears in the 1999 draft, Tucker was one of the league's emerging young guards when he started all 16 games in 2001, and he was named a Pro Bowl alternate. But that was the last full, 16-game schedule in which Tucker has played. Ravaged by a series of injuries, the former Texas A&M star has appeared in just 49 games, with 35 starts, for his career.

This season marks the fifth straight in which Tucker will miss at least eight games because of injury.

His older brother, Cleveland Browns right offensive tackle Ryan Tucker, also saw his season ended this week when he was placed on the NFL's non-football injury list. The 10-year veteran is suffering from an undisclosed illness that, while not believed life-threatening, could end his career.

With the loss of Tucker, the Lions will move journeyman Barry Stokes, who has started four games this season at right tackle, into the lineup.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.