It was largely because he has a good working knowledge of coach Dirk Koetter’s offense as well as the ability to stretch the field that the Buccaneers brought Donteea Dye back as a replacement for injured wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
Well, it doesn’t look like the Bucs are going to benefit from either one of those things this week.
Though a decision probably won’t be made official until just before game time, it appears that a lack of proper conditioning will force the Bucs to keep Dye out of their game against the 49ers in Sana Clara, California this coming Sunday.
“He’s not ready,’’ Koetter said of Dye on Friday. “He’s familiar with everything. He knows what he’s doing. But guys that miss four weeks, they can train all they want but it’s always different.
“Running with the trainers, running on your own – it’s just different than when you get out here and there are 21 other guys on the field with you. I can’t really explain why that is but it is.’’
Dye was with the Bucs for all of training camp and most of the preseason and he seemed destined to make the 53-man roster but was cut on Aug. 30 after he suffered a hamstring strain.
Dye has spent the past two months rehabbing and while it’s possible he could still dress for the game and play a spot role, perhaps in the return game, the Bucs are likely to turn to Cecil Shorts and Russell Shepard as fill-ins for Jackson.
Shorts may not be all that better off than Dye, though. He, too, is coming off a month of inactivity due to a hamstring strain and he admits he’s still not quite in tune with the offense.
That may force the Bucs to lean largely on Shepard, at least in their three- and four-receiver sets, which might not be a bad idea.
Koetter admits he’s had a hard time thinking of Shepard as anything other than the special teams ace that he’s become, but no receiver looked better through training camp and the preseason than Shepard, who caught three passes for 62 yards and a touchdown during preseason action.