TAMPA – It was more or less by default, but it appears as though several of the Buccaneers more compelling position battles were decided during the team’s 23-12 loss to the Bengals on Friday night.
Roberto Aguayo inadvertently decided the kicking battle, handing that job to challenger Nick Folk by earning his release after missing an extra point and a 47-yard field goal.
The backup quarterback’s job was all but decided, too, as was the starting strong-side linebacker’s job when Ryan Griffin and Devante Bond both went down with injuries.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Griffin will need “weeks’’ to recover from the right AC joint sprain he suffered when he was hit from behind and taken to the ground in the second half.
The Bucs have not disclosed Bond’s injury, other than to acknowledge that it’s not a recurrence of the hamstring strain that kept him out all of last year, but he will need some extended time to recover as well.
The injuries mean Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely go into the season as the backup to starter Jameis Winston and that rookie Kendell Beckwith will likely start the season as the team’s strong-side linebacker.
The release of Aguayo, of course, means that Nick Folk is now projected to go into the season as the team’s kicker, but Koetter said the team will bring in “another leg’’ just to be safe.
Koetter said that “leg’’ will likely be added to the roster before the Bucs begin two days of joint workouts with the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Monday, but noted that for all intents and purposes, Folk is the kicker.
“As of right now, Nick’s going to be our kicker,’’ Koetter said. “(Releasing Aguayo) allows us as a team to get behind Nick, to support Nick and move forward.’’
The Bucs released Aguayo after he missed an extra point and a 47-yard field goal in the Bucs preseason opener in Cincinnati, where Folk was good on one try from 45 yards out.
“It’s a production business,’’ Koetter said of the decision. “We’ve been saying (it). And it’s unfortunate because Roberto’s a good kid. He’s been trying to do the right thing, but again, it’s a production business.’’
Koetter said the Bucs are weighing their options regarding what to do with Griffin, who could be placed on injured reserve with an intent to be brought back when he’s healthy.
The Bucs could also place Griffin on the Physically Unable to Perform list or take the more risky action of waiving Griffin injured and hoping he doesn’t sign with another team while he’s out.
The loss of Bond will allow the Bucs to get more of a look at one of their more intriguing rookies as many believe Beckwith was under-drafted as a result of suffering a knee injury just nine months ago.
Prior to the injury, Beckwith was considered one of the more promising middle or weak-side linebacker prospects in this year’s draft, a viewpoint the Bucs apparently agree with.
Beckwith has been getting most of his practice reps this training camp at middle linebacker and that will likely continue, Koetter said, even though he will now move to the top of the depth chart at strong-side backer.