Jeremy Zuttah, who started 16 games at left guard, is ready for the challenge of replacing Jeff Faine at center. Faine tore his quadriceps and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Tampa Bay center Jeff Faine will miss the next 4-6 weeks due to a torn quadriceps in his right leg. The injury happened in the second quarter of Tampa Bay’s 24-21 comeback win in Cincinnati.
“It’s pretty sore,” Faine said. “It’s going to be a some time before it’s right. I tore the muscle.”
“It was pretty painful when it happened. The best way for me to describe it would be if you were ever cooking and you had to tear raw meat or raw chicken with your hands. That’s what it felt like when I tore my quad.”
Faine, who tore his triceps muscle last year and missed four games, said the quad injury will not require surgery but that he will miss over a month’s worth of action.
“It’s something that I’ll have to rehab and it’s something that can heal itself,” Faine said. “It’s difficult right now to really say – anywhere from four to six weeks. It’s going to be some time. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but it’s part of the game.”
Third-year offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah stepped in for Faine and finished the game. Zuttah, who started all 16 games at left guard last year and can also play center, will take over for Faine.
“The best way for me to help him is mentally to be in there with him just as if I was playing,” Faine said. “At the end of the day, to be a consultant, really. He’s plenty capable and he stepped in and did a pretty good job this past week. I look forward for him doing the same thing for weeks to come.”
Zuttah is looking forward to the challenge of playing center and to get back into the starting lineup one way or another.
“I feel like I have come a long way as a player and this will be an opportunity to showcase that,” said Zuttah. “Faine is a guy that has played center for so long that a lot of times you lean on him because of the things that he sees that a lot of other people don’t see. It’s mostly in the quarterback’s hands, but there are adjustments that come over from the center.”
Faine said that Josh Freeman’s handling of the protection calls this year as opposed to last year when it was the center’s responsibility, should help Zuttah make the transition from guard to center.
“Without a doubt that’s a huge advantage for us now,” Faine said. “Last year, it was a little difficult for him to do those things, but he’s matured and he picked up the offense extremely well so he’s got to do those things and make the calls.
“Jeremy is a pretty cerebral player anyways. He’s got a good mind for the game and he’s been able to do the things to be able to help as well.”
Zuttah played tackle and guard in college, but has only begun playing center at the NFL level in practice and in preseason games. He is still making the mechanical transition to snapping the ball.
“You start every play one handed,” said Zuttah. “I just have to snap the ball and make sure that is the most important things. You have to take care of that first before you get into your blocks with both hands.”
Faine was impressed with the job Zuttah did at center in helping the Bucs prevail against the Bengals.
“He did a great job,” Faine said. “He came in and played very well and was able to fill the spot and that’s something he’ll be asked to do the next several weeks. Playing the center position is not as foreign as it used to be for him, but it’s still a little foreign. It’s just something that he has to overcome. He’s a smart player. He plays well and is very athletic. I think he’ll be able to step in and get the job done.”
“It’ll be my most natural position for the next few weeks because that is where I will be locked in at,” said Zuttah.
For Faine, who has played a role in helping Tampa Bay get off to a 3-1 start, missing some playing time just as the team is getting hot is disappointing. Faine loves playing against divisional opponents and dreads missing this week’s game against New Orleans due to the fact that he was with the Saints for several years prior to becoming a Buccaneer.
“It’s difficult because we’ve been in a dogfight all year this year, but we’ve been on the right side of it,” Faine said. “You definitely want to be involved and be a part of this. It’s getting around to the thick of things where it’s the meat of the schedule where we are going to be playing some divisional opponents. These are the games you love to play. I especially love to play this game. It’s tough to go sit on the sidelines, but I will contribute as much as I can.”
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