Tampa Bay quarterback Trent Dilfer will be sidelined four to eight weeks with a broken right collarbone, meaning he could be miss the rest of the season as the Buccaneers chase the NFC Central title.
Dilfer made 70 consecutive regular-season starts before he was benched for one week last month. He was injured Sunday when he was sacked by Seattle's Phillip Daniels early in the second half of a 16-3 victory over the Seahawks.
The sixth-year pro was replaced by rookie Shaun King, who probably will make his first NFL start when the Bucs (7-4) face the Minnesota Vikings at home next Monday night. King completed 3 of 7 passes for 32 yards and one touchdown in his first regular-season appearance Sunday.
Coach Tony Dungy said Monday he hasn't given up on the possibility of Dilfer's return before the end of the season.
"He's definitely going to be out four weeks, could possibly play in six and that's kind of what we have to look at. I know Trent wants to keep that hope alive that he'll be back," the coach said.
"He's been a quick healer from the different injuries that he has had since I've been here, so we're going to examine that and look at all the possibilities and probably make that decision later on in the week."
Another decision the Bucs eventually will face is whether Dilfer has played his last game for Tampa Bay. The team must decide whether to exercise a $4 million option to keep him from becoming a free agent this winter.
Dilfer was benched five games ago after the Bucs got off to 3-3 start. He regained the job after Eric Zeier was injured during a loss at Detroit and has helped Tampa Bay to four consecutive victories and a share of the NFC Central lead with the Vikings and Lions.
Zeier hasn't practiced since injuring his ribs against the Lions on Nov. 7 and is expected to resume workouts this week.
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