Vincent Jackson latest Bucs WR to miss playing time

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played the second half of Sunday's 24-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints without second-leading receiver Vincent Jackson and will likely be without him for the fourth game this season Thursday.

Jackson suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return. His availability for Thursday's matchup with the St. Louis Rams is also uncertain. He had one catch for 5 yards before the injury.

Defensive tackle Akeem Spence went down late in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed lower-leg injury and did not return. He is also questionable for the Rams game.

"It will be a challenge, but no one really wants to hear that," Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said of Jackson and Spence playing Thursday. "It's got to be next guy up. We still have 53 guys on the roster. That will be our mindset."

Entering the game with 32 catches for 538 yards and three touchdowns, Jackson was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards. He had suffered a knee injury earlier this season that forced him to miss three games.

Sunday marked just the second game the Bucs had their top three receivers healthy. That didn't last.

If Jackson is unable to play, the Bucs could turn to Donteea Dye, who took the majority of snaps in the second half and had a critical drop on third down, or Adam Humphries.

If Spence can't play, Tony McDaniel will likely move into his role.