It’s only the first preseason game, and it’s not as if the Buccaneers were going to show an awful lot on offense with their first two units, anyway. However, injuries have mounted up already in the first two week of camp and it means that some young and inexperienced players will be called upon to play some early on Thursday night in Miami.
First, the longest current tenured (nine seasons) Buc is RT Demar Dotson (above), and he is progressing nicely from off season knee surgery. Dotson has been back at practice but has also been held out of some reps and even entire workouts, while they bring the soon to be 33 year old along.
Dotson did practice on Tuesday during 11 on 11 work, but is not expected to see the field for Thursday night. Late last season the Bucs used former UCLA star Caleb Benonoch as a backup at right tackle, but he has also been nursing an undisclosed injury.
The Bucs had wanted use Benonoch at right guard some in this camp, but that is also on hold.
Good news is that Benenoch was able to practice Tuesday. It’s unclear how much, if at all, he will try to play against the Dolphins. The Bucs also have a young veteran tackle in Leonard Wester, but he’s been out of practice, including Tuesday. So, he is not likely to play in game one.
“We don’t necessarily want Donovan Smith to play with the threes (third team) because we don’t have any tackles left. We have some issues at a couple positions like that right now. Some positions better than others and we’ll work them out. We’re going to go out there and compete our tails off on Thursday night. I’m looking forward to it.”
Smith is anchoring the left side with Ali Marpet having moved to left guard for this season and new free agent Ryan Jensen in the middle. It’s believed that rookie and former Division II football star Alex Cappa, who’s taken some first team reps, will play significantly in the first half at right guard along with veteran Evan Smith.
As for the right tackle? It’s anyone’s guess until we see it Thursday night.
The Bucs announced late Tuesday afternoon that they had signed second year player T Jarron Jones, who was in the Giants training camp and also on the Cowboys practice squad last year.
Jones won’t be an option for Thursday, but maybe beyond.
Bucs WR Mike Evans still not practicing
The Bucs were back on the practice field Wednesday morning getting ready for their third preseason game on Friday night with the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. However, once again, they are without their top receiver, Mike Evans, who remains sidelined with an injury.
Buccaneers beat reporter for The Athletic, Greg Auman, tweeted that Evans was not out on the practice field during the portion that is open to the media:
Mike Evans not practicing today means Mike Evans isn't playing Friday, and he's not playing next week, which means he'll finish the preseason without a catch. He's as known a commodity as the Bucs have on their roster though.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 21, 2019
Evans pulled up during a drill in Sunday’s practice and head coach Bruce Arians made mention of the injury on Monday:
“Mike tweaked yesterday…it’s nothing serious,” Arians told the media.
It is reportedly a leg injury to Evans’ quadriceps that is hampering him.
The Bucs are not required to talk about injuries, much less the severity of them, at this stage. And, it’s not believed that there will be any further updates on Evans this week.
However, it’s easy to conclude the Tampa Bay will not risk playing him in the third preseason game and is Auman tweeted, the starters never play in the fourth preseason game which will be next Thursday in Dallas.
So clearly, Tampa Bay is resting and rehabbing Evans for the season opener with the 49ers.
Evans, a Pro Bowl wide receiver from a year ago, is the top target of QB Jameis Winston. A year ago he caught for a career high 1,524 yards and also career high 17.7 avg with 8 TDs.
Evans had 86 receptions, which were the second most of his five year career, in 2018, and he’s one of three receivers in NFL history to have 1,000+ receiving yards in each of his first five seasons. Hall of Famer, Randy Moss and A.J. Green are the other two.
Evans previously dealt with a hamstring injury in the 2015 preseason and missed the season opener with Tennessee but returned the following week. However, he’s been very durable since then, playing in 47 of the 48 games the last three years, having missed only a 2017 game while suspended for his role in a fight against the Saints.
This info comes on Evans’ birthday, as he turns just 26 today.
Bucs RB Ronald Jones back at Tuesday practice
Bucs fans can exhale on the knee injury for running back Ronald Jones, at least for now.
Jones was seen at the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday afternoon with his left knee heavily wrapped but, most importantly, participating in drills in full pads.
Ronald Jones back at practice today with his knee heavily taped but moving pretty good. Certainly not 100. %Mike Evans still out but it’s not a serious. pic.twitter.com/RHDR80qfqn
— FanStreamSports JP (@FanStreamJP) August 20, 2019
Jones had not practiced the last two days of Bucs training camp with what was described as a swollen knee suffered after playing in Friday night’s preseason game with the Dolphins.
As we wrote yesterday, coach Bruce Arians provided a brief update after practice into Jones’ situation,
“Ronald’s knee swelled up a little bit and just trying to take it day to day with him.”
Traditionally, the third preseason game is the final time, where starters for the regular season play significantly. The Bucs are set to host the Cleveland Browns Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.
When asked about Jones’ chances to play or whether the team would play it safe, Arians briefly said:
“We’ll see how it is. We still got a few more days. I think Ronald’s gonna be ok.”
Jones appeared to have suffered some kind of left knee hyper-extension returning the opening kickoff on a rain-slicked turf against the Friday night. That’s what can be seen this photo on social media from Tampa Bay sports reporter Kevin O’Donnell showing Jones knee clearly in an awkward spot when he planted:
Wondering why #Bucs runningback Ronald Jones knee is sore? This is the opening kickoff Friday night against the Dolphins. Rojo didn’t practice yesterday. Looks like a hyperextension to me. pic.twitter.com/mVmW86E96x
— Kevin ODonnell Fox13 (@ODonnellFox13) August 19, 2019
Jones did carry the ball twice for 7 yards later in the first quarter of the game before being shut down for the night.
Jones has been one of the standouts of the Bucs offseason and training camp with glowing updates repeatedly from Arians about his progress and his chances of seeing significant playing time. He missed three games with a hamstring injury in a disappointing rookie year.
However, he is expected to challenge incumbent starter from last year Peyton Barber for playing time/carries, once the regular season gets underway in two weeks.
Another obvious point, if his knee was sprained or worse, the Bucs would not have had on the field in full uniform trying to run and cut, even at a reduced speed. So, that’s also a positive.
For now, we await Arians’ and the teams plans for using Jones, or not, against the Browns later today and tomorrow.