TAMPA - Bucs WR Paris Warren was seemingly three minutes from solidifying a strong argument that he deserved to be on this year's team before he suffered a season-ending injury.
Warren had three receptions for 63 yards and one touchdown in the first half against Houston. In addition to 9-yard touchdown pass from QB Luke McCown, Warren also had a 51-yard grab to set up RB Lionel Gates' 5-yard touchdown reception.
As Warren caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Bruce Gradkowski with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, his hopes of having a breakthrough season took a dramatic and sad turn.
Houston CB Dexter McCleon tackled Warren in the end zone, and the receiver ended up severely damaging his left leg on the play. Warren's leg below the knee was twisted away from his body, and Bucs coach Jon Gruden said Warren suffered a dislocated ankle and will be placed on injured reserve.
'Obviously, we're disappointed in what happened to Paris Warren. His season is over,' Gruden said.
Warren's teammates showed their support as they all left the sideline and ran to him. LB Derrick Brooks hugged Warren as he was being carted off the field.
Warren finished the game with seven receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and he returned three punts.
With Joey Galloway entrenched as the No. 1 receiver, followed by Maurice Stovall, David Boston and Ike Hilliard, Warren had a chance to be Tampa Bay's fifth or sixth receiver, depending on what happened with Michael Clayton. Tampa Bay will make its final cut Saturday.
Tampa Bay drafted Warren in the seventh round in 2005. He was on the practice squad that season, and Warren appeared in eight games last season with five receptions for 63 yards.
LAND LEAVING: Tampa Bay announced Chief Operating Officer Eric S. Land is stepping down, and his last day will be Sept. 28.
Land joined the Bucs in January 2006 after previously serving as president and general manager at WFLA, News Channel 8 in Tampa.
According to a Buccaneers news release, Land said he is 'interested in applying what I have learned in the NFL along with my television industry background to the next assignment. The Glazer family has been gracious to my family and me through the years and I look forward to maintaining our close relationship.'
The release also said Land and his family intend to remain in the Tampa Bay community, and there are no immediate plans to fill his position.
A BAD START: Tampa Bay's first two possessions were something coaches and players would probably like to forget.
Houston QB Sage Rosenfels led his team on a seven-play, 71-yard scoring drive on the Texans' first possession. Bucs CB Alan Zemaitis slipped on one long gain by Houston, and was covering WR Jacoby Jones when he scored on a 3-yard reception.
Tampa Bay had possession for three plays before Texans DE N.D. Kalu caused a fumble as he sacked QB Luke McCown. The fumble was picked up by CB Jamar Fletcher and returned 33 yards for a touchdown.
'An awful way to start a football game,' Gruden said. 'I thought we did some really good things. Luke McCown obviously did some really good things at quarterback. You can't fumble the ball at the 1-yard line, turn the football over and expect to dominate. We have to work on that.'
NEED TO STAY AWAKE: Bucs rookie DE Gaines Adams may have learned a valuable lesson during the second quarter.
The Texans had possession when Bucs S Sabby Piscitelli intercepted Jared Zabransky's pass.
As the play was concluding, Texans T Jordan Black pushed Adams in the back. Adams laid on the ground for at least two minutes. Black was called for a personal foul, and Adams did not re-enter the game as a precautionary measure.
SEE YOU IN FEW WEEKS: Tampa Bay CB Torrie Cox had a special teams tackle in the first half, but it will be a while before his impact is felt again.
Cox was suspended without pay by the NFL for the first four regular-season games after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He was allowed to participate in preseason practices and games before his suspension, which begins today. Cox is eligible to rejoin the Bucs' active roster Oct. 1 following the team's road game against Carolina on Sept. 30.
Anwar S. Richardson