A main objective for the final preseason game is to escape preseason without anyone getting hurt. Unfortunately that’s not how the Buccaneers final preseason game played out.
Mike James, Peyton Hillis, Tom Crabtree, and Rashaan Melvin all suffered some kind of injury Thursday night against the Washington Redskins. Head coach Greg Schiano spoke Friday on the injuries and on the current status of the injured players.
“[Running back Peyton] Hillis, although sore, I think he'll be okay,” Schiano said. “[Tight end Tom] Crabtree I think, he's got a significant ankle sprain, what that means, I don't know timeline yet. We'll see. [Cornerback Rashaan] Melvin has a hamstring [injury], we don't know how significant yet. "
Schiano’s tone was that of a concerned coach as he would elaborate on the Crabtree injury as he says it’s a high ankle sprain.
"I believe it is. I don't know how high though,” Schiano said. “The issue is, the higher up, the harder it is to get back, or rather, the longer it takes to get back, generally."
According to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, the average length of time for a player to return from a high ankle sprain is typically four to six weeks depending on the severity of the injury. Worst case scenario to repair the sprain would be surgery but that sidelines a player for four months and ending his season.
That is a major setback for the Buccaneers at the position. With Luke Stocker missing the majority of training camp and Nate Byham and Danny Noble not having many impressive reps during preseason, the position is now one of concern.
As for James, his eye injury is also a mystery. One that Schiano does not have much information on.
"That we're not sure on yet, where that lies,” Schiano said. “You don't hear on that very often so I think we need to delve deeper into that to figure it out. I'm not sure exactly what the cause was. I'm not sure he's sure."
The players that fell to injury hurt the stance for where they were on the potential depth chart as well as chances of making the final roster. But even with all that, coach Schiano realizes that along with the coaching staff, decisions on the final roster have to be made.
"Like I said, we're in the process of evaluating everything and sorting through,” Schiano said. “Our whole goal is to have the best 53 players, yet slotting them into positional needs. Hopefully you don't find yourself in that spot where you are disproportionate in any position and we're not, so now it's within the positional needs, who are the best however many defensive lineman - when you get to the end of it, this guy [is] incrementally better than this guy at his position so [for] player 51, 52, 53 [we] may make some decisions that way. Special teams also comes into play in a lot of that.
"There's a lot of them (decisions). I wouldn't get into that now. Right now, there's still guys in that room who don't know what's happening, so they'll be the first to know it - not on a tweet or something; that's fairness to them. It's a hard day. This is a good group of people, and they've busted their rear-ends for this organization; we work hard around here. Guys have pushed through pain and done things. Sometimes it's just - as I tell them - it's relative. It's the most competitive sports league in the world; 1696 guys get to do it when it's all said and done, in the whole world. But that doesn't lessen the disappointment at all for these guys. Today's a special day for some and a really bad day for others, but at the end of the day, it's probably not as good as people think, and it's not as bad. This league goes like 'this' (in a circle). These guys that are here are good football players and tough guys, so they'll probably resurface, a lot of them, somewhere else."
All 32 teams are required to cut down their rosters and reach the 53-man roster limit by Saturday’s 6 PM deadline. Whether injured or not, some players careers will continue with the Bucs while others will hope they were impressive enough for another team to pick them up.