The Bucs selected Miami native Kevin Pamphile with the second of the two fifth-round picks they had in the 2014 NFL Draft thinking the Purdue product might one day play right tackle for them.
That day may finally be at hand.
With Demar Dotson still in the concussion protocol and Gosder Cherilus nursing ankle and groin injuries suffered in the Bucs loss at Dallas last week, the Bucs are suddenly dire straits at right tackle.
The situation is so dire that it’s possible the Bucs will move Pamphile from left guard, the position he’s taken control of this season, to right tackle for Saturday’s game against the Saints.
That of course would create a hole at left guard, but the Bucs have a couple of options to choose from there, including starting rookie Caleb Benenoch at left guard.
Benenoch started the first of the two games Pamphile missed because of a concussion of his own earlier in the year, but he was replaced a week later by Ben Gottschalk, who has since been placed on injured reserve.
The other option is to start backup center Evan Smith at left guard, and if you go by the Bucs current official depth chart that may be the way they’re leaning for this game.
Smith has played left guard occasionally during his six-plus years in the NFL, including a few snaps there this year, and he could get the call should the need arise.
And it looks like the need will indeed arise. Cherilus has missed practice all week and Dotson missed Thursday’s workout after being limited in practice on Wednesday, his first day back in two weeks.
That’s not a good sign. Though the Bucs have not and will not confirm it, Dotson’s absence on Thursday is an indication he may have suffered a setback during Wednesday’s workout.
If that’s the case, then it’s highly unlikely he’ll be ready to play in time for Saturday’s game, which means the Bucs will almost certainly have to go to one of their contingency plans.
That’s not good either, especially when you consider that the offensive line has taken a lot of the blame for the recent struggles of an offense that’s produced an average of just 16 points per game the last five games.
Back to Pamphile, if he is put in at right tackle, it’s an area under siege the last two games against the Cowboys and two weeks ago, the Saints. Dallas’ David Irving wreaked havoc in the fourth quarter off the left end and New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan did the same throughout the game in Tampa.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says, however, that the Bucs troubles on offense run much deeper than the offensive line.
“We’re having some trouble in multiple spots,’’ Koetter said, “We’re too inconsistent overall on offense. We were on a nice little roll of not turning the ball over for a while and then we got back to putting our defense in bad positions (last week at Dallas).
“We had a couple of chances (inside the red zone) early (in that game as well) and we’ve got to finish with touchdowns. Those two field goals we kicked in the first half, those eight points that we left out there by not finishing with touchdowns looked pretty big at the end of the game.
“Then there’s the fact that a couple offensive turnovers led to field goals the other way. So everybody gets credit when we do well and everybody gets to share in the blame including the coaches, including me when we don’t do well. So, I’m not one to pin all our woes on our offensive line. We all took turns.’’