Guard Arron Sears won't help the Bucs this season.
Tampa Bay placed Sears on the reserve/non-football illness list.
Sears, the Bucs' second-round pick in 2006, left the team in March to deal with a private matter. The Bucs had a two-week roster exemption to decide what to do with Sears. But he was "significantly" out of shape.
"He'll remain with us for the rest of the year," said Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "Obviously, he won't be able to practice, he won't be able to appear in games, he won't be able to do stuff like that. But he'll be allowed to work at the facility with our strength coaches and trainers, and we'll get him going to get him ready for next year and the off-season."
Morris said the first goal for Sears is to improve his conditioning and remain with his teammates until he can rejoin them on the field next season.
"A lot of it's been physical conditioning," Morris said. "All of it's really been physical conditioning. He hasn't had much classroom or any work like that, or anything as far as football-specific drills other than the ones that would be related to strength and conditioning. It's all been strength and conditioning, it's been all getting back into shape, it's been all him getting his body right to prepare himself to be the best football player he can be."
Morris said he is very encouraged by Sears' progress and believes he's on the road back.
"It's on the up, from what I can see," Morris said. "He's been in the building every day, working out with our trainers and going through all the stuff you need to go through as far as getting ready for football. So it's definitely on the rise. Like we said earlier, it would be wishful thinking to think that he was going to make it back this year. That's just kind of rare for anybody. Anybody that has sat out that long, I don't know if they'd be able to come back. It would be wishful thinking."
--QB Josh Freeman is 10th in the NFL in fourth-quarter passing with a 94.0 rating.
--QB Josh Johnson will continue to be the Bucs' No. 2 quarterback.
--QB Rudy Carpenter, who was signed off the Cowboys' practice squad, will be the Bucs' inactive third quarterback the rest of the season with the injury to Byron Leftwich.
--RB Clifton Smith is third in the NFL with a 29.1 kickoff-return average.
--TE Kellen Winslow has led the Bucs in receptions in nine of 11 games this season.
--CB Aqib Talib has a hamstring strain and will be questionable for Sunday's game at Carolina.
--PK Conner Barth had his first NFL punt of his career, a 46-yarder at Atlanta.
--P Sam Paulescu was signed by the Bucs on Tuesday to replace Dirk Johnson, who was placed on injured reserve.
--P Dirk Johnson was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring tear.