TAMPA – You don’t hear the phrase “healthy scratch’’ used all that much in football circles. It’s more of a hockey term used to describe a healthy player who for one reason or another has been scratched from his team’s game-day lineup.
Football teams don’t use the term much because most of the players that are held out of their games are held out because they’re simply not healthy enough to play, but come Sunday, the Buccaneers may be making generous use of that term.
When the Bucs first official injury report came out Wednesday it contained just one name, that of second-year linebacker Devante Bond, who has been battling a knee injury since the third week of training camp and was listed as a limited participant in practice that day.
“Yeah, we are pretty healthy,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “You’ll see from the injury report. It will never be this clean again.’’
No, probably not. And in a way, it’s thanks to Hurricane Irma that it’s as clean as it is right now. Surely a few more names would have been on the list had the Bucs played the Dolphins as planned a week ago and not been given another week to rest up for what his now their season opener.
At the very least you would have thought that defensive end Jacquies Smith would have been on the list. Smith is still recovering from a knee injury himself. In fact, it was just in the last week or so that he returned to the practice field.
The fact that Smith is not even on the list suggests he has more than likely been full go in practice and therefore may be good to go come Sunday’s opener against the Bears to resume his normal role, which is that of a situational pass rusher.
If that’s the case (and just so you know, the Bucs are being very coy about their plans for Smith) then that Bucs pass rush could indeed get the added boost that so many were hoping for but wondered if it would when Smith was placed on the PUP ahead of the start of training camp.
The Bucs, as you surely recall, didn’t address what seemed to many to be a glaring need for edge rush help during the offseason, passing on the likes of Calais Campbell in free agency and ends Taco Charlton and DeMarcus Walker in the draft.
It’s obvious then that they’re counting on getting a big year out of Smith. For now, at least, it looks like they can count on at least getting one game out of him.