It was a scary sight for the Bucs, their coaching staff and fans on Tuesday morning, as hulking LT Donovan Smith crumpled to the ground after having had his left leg rolled up upon from behind on a hand off.
The lineman, who has never missed a Buccaneers regular season game, left the field limping badly and putting in jeopardy his missing the Bucs opener September 9th at the Saints.
Here was video from ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine of Smith being helped up off the ground after he slammed off his helmet and was tended to for almost two minutes:
Here’s more video of Donovan Smith walking off with quite a bit of help from the training staff… pic.twitter.com/JfSmyQw3sf
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) August 21, 2018
The importance of the former 2015 second round pick out of Penn State cannot be overstated. This is because Smith, shown above against the Titans Saturday, has been the blind-sided protector in the Bucs offense for QB Jameis Winston for the last three seasons. And, he will be again for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, once the regular season begins.
And, Smith has prided himself on that durability for an offensive line unit that has been in flux. A year ago, the Bucs lost games to injury repeatedly for new center Ali Marpet (who has been moved to LG this year), guards Kevin Pamphile and J.R. Sweezy (no longer with the team), and stalward RT Demar Dotson.
As for Smith, a report from Tampa Bay Times Bucs reporter Rick Stroud indicated that it’s apparently not a torn ligament that would require surgery.
Bucs are optimistic that both LT Donovan Smith and S Justin Evans will e ready for Week 1 vs the Saints.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) August 21, 2018
That would indicate that it’s likely a sprained knee ligament for Smith and something that he could come back from in a couple of weeks.
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