Beat Writer & Videographer
The Buccaneers missed their Pro Bowl right guard against the Jaguars and struggled to run the ball in his absence. Coach Morris said Joseph will be out again this week against Houston. Find out what center Jeff Faine said about not having Joseph avaiable? Also, see Morris said about Joseph's replacement, Jeremy Zuttah.
The Buccaneers were without a key member of the offense against Jacksonville. At first glance you may not have noticed him out of the lineup, but Davin Joseph is just as important as anyone else on the offense.
Without him in the lineup against the Jaguars, the Bucs struggled to run the football with the first-team offense on the field. Running back Carnell ‘Cadillac' Williams managed a paltry six yards on five carries (1.2 avg.) against a Jaguars team that was down their starting linebackers. Compare that to the preseason opener against the Dolphins where Williams had four carries for 21 yards (5.25 avg.). It's clear that the Bucs missed Joseph's presence along the line.
"Any time you lose a Pro Bowl caliber offensive lineman that is going to affect your play," said Faine. "There is something to be said for missing him there. As he comes back and gets healthy again, we should hopefully get back on track."
Head coach Raheem Morris said that Joseph injured his hip while working out last week and that is what kept him out this past game. The Bucs expect him to be ready for the season opener against the Browns, but along with wide receiver Maurice Stovall and safety Sabby Piscitelli, he will not be available Thursday night against the Texans.
"Davin is good. He got the hip flexor last week, but he will be out of this game," said Morris. "I don't want to bring him back and force the issue so he will be out this week to get ready for Cleveland."
Joseph, 26, is one of the main cogs along the Bucs' offensive line. He has started 56 games, including the last 28, at right guard since being drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. His absence does not figure to be long-term, but Faine believes it messes with the chemistry of the offensive line.
"I think that up front on the offensive line any time you have a changeup and mix it around, that's one of the things that you'd rather not deal with," said Faine. "When you have the opportunity to have the same five guys in it is a great thing because that's your dance partners. You know how they're moving and move around, and it is comfort thing up there."
Taking Joseph's place in the starting lineup was Jeremy Zuttah, who recently lost his starting spot at left guard to free agent acquisition Keydrick Vincent. Even though the team struggled to run the football, Zuttah believes the offense did some nice things.
"We had some good drives together," said Zuttah. "We had some good plays and we will continue to progress and move forward and string them together more."
Along with filling in at right guard for Joseph, Zuttah has been seeing work at center during the preseason. The third-year pro believes his versatility will him during the season in case a starter goes down with an injury.
"It's a long season," said Zuttah. "Guys go down all the time so someone needs to be ready to step up and I just have to do whatever is asked if me."
Since being demoted, Zuttah has been working hard for his next opportunity and Morris says that he needs to be ready as it could come at anytime.
"I was not expecting Zuttah to come in here skipping and being happy about losing his position and he wasn't," said Morris. "He was an angry worker for a few days, but he is a professional. He went to work and he had to go right back into the starting lineup and go play right guard. He's fighting and he is looking at everybody on that offensive line and knows every single one because he knows he next opportunity is going to come from somebody and he has to be ready to take advantage of it... He is a highly needed and great backup for us at so many positions."
Despite no longer being a starter Zuttah is not bitter towards coach Morris or the rest of the staff.
"It is what it is," said Zuttah. "The coaches feel like they have to do what is best for so I trust the coaches."
What it is Zuttah, is that the Bucs are hoping to get their Pro Bowl right guard back as soon as possible. Not that Zuttah is a bad player, but the offense seems to struggle with him out on the field.
After all, isn't that the reason why the Bucs brought in Vincent?
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