Bucs’ Tom Crabtree Carted Off With Ankle Injury

NFL: Preseason-Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

UPDATE: X-rays on Crabtree’s leg were negative, according to Coach Schiano. He did not know the severity of the injury, but did say that the ankle is not broken.

The competition for the Buccaneers’ starting tight end may not be much of a battle anymore.

During the first quarter of Thursday night’s preseason finale at Raymond James Stadium, Tom Crabtree suffered an ankle injury and was carted off the field.

He was officially ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Crabtree signed with the team as a free agent out of Green Bay this offseason. He saw significant action in training camp while Luke Stocker recovered from a calf injury.

He caught 3 passes this preseason for 71 receiving yards, including a 61-yard reception against the Ravens — the longest reception of the Bucs’ preseason.

While it’s too early to speculate just how bad the injury is for Crabtree, a cart-off certainly doesn’t bode well for his availability this season, nor does it bode well for the Bucs at a position not considered particularly deep.

Stocker, a fourth-round pick has struggled with injuries, including the calf injury that landed him on the physically unable to perform list at the beginning of camp, and a hip injury that sidelined him prior to the 2011 season,

Nate Byham, who’s next on the depth chart, saw action in 11 games last year and caught a touchdown in the Bucs’ win over the Panthers.

Behind him, there is Danny Noble and Tim Wright. Zach Miller, another member of the tight ends group in training camp, was part of the team’s initial roster cuts this week.