The Buccaneers got out of Sunday's 27-20 loss to the visiting Detroit Lions in the 2011 regular season opener with just two injuries to kick returner and wide receiver Sammie Stroughter and defensive tackle Brian Price. Stroughter injured his foot in the first quarter and will miss at least a month's worth of action after having surgery, while Price pulled his left hamstring and is listed as day-to-day.
“Sammie Stroughter will have a small surgery tomorrow,” Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said. “It’s not major, but he will be out a few weeks and we will miss him a little bit. His backup, Preston Parker, stepped in and did a really good job yesterday and played well. He’ll get better with the practice reps, so we’ll look forward to that.”
Stroughter had a 78-yard kickoff return in the first quarter after Detroit took an early 3-0 lead that helped the Bucs tie the score at 3-3. The 2009 seventh-round draft pick injured his foot on the play and did not return to the game. After the game he was seen in the locker room on crutches with his foot in a boot. Morris said that Stroughter will not miss the season due to the injury.
“He’s not out for the season – just a few weeks,” Morris said. “We have Preston Parker, we have Spurlock and we also have Briscoe that can go in there and do a few things for us as well,” Morris said.
Stroughter missed the final four games of the 2009 season after breaking his right foot. Last year, Stroughter missed three games due to hamstring and back injuries. The 78-yard kickoff return is the second-longest of Stroughter's career. In 2009 during his rookie season, Stroughter returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown against Carolina, which tied the franchise record for the longest kickoff return in team history.
After missing all but the first five games of his rookie season due to pelvic and hamstring injuries, Price battled back from what was described as radical surgery last year to start at nose tackle in the team's season-opening loss to Detroit. But Price sustained an injury to his left hamstring in the third quarter that caused him to pound his fist to the turf and had to leave the game. The former second-round pick finished the game with two tackles and a tackle for loss.
Price's surgery involved fastening his hamstrings to his pelvis with screws, which is a procedure that no other NFL player has undergone. Morris indicated that there was not a hamstring tear.
“Brian Price will be day-to-day,” Morris said. “Hopefully we will get him back. He had one of his better games. I’m really pleased with how he played yesterday and how fast he got off the ball and some of the stuff he did for us at nose tackle.
“It was the hamstring. He has a hamstring deal and it’s a light one. But when he was out there he played well. You can’t take that away from him.”
Morris was not as pleased with Price's backups at nose tackle, Roy Miller and Frank Okam, as Detroit rushed for 126 yards on 35 carries (3.6 avg.), led by Jahvid Best's 72 yards on 21 carries. Okam and Miller each had one tackle against Detroit.
“We didn’t play well at the nose tackle position against the run, so we have to play better there at nose tackle,” Morris said. “Roy and Okam didn’t get very good get-off. We didn’t get very good play out of our nose tackle [position] and I’ll address that with them. This is not an indictment on them, but we have to get better play from our nose tackle position with our get-off and how we want to play the game.
“We needed better plays out of our studs. We need Quincy Black to play bigger, and Geno Hayes and some of those guys to play better and bigger for us. We had a couple of missed (opportunities). We missed two interceptions – maybe three – and there were some fumbles there early. We did score once on defense, but we had the opportunity to score twice with that fumble.”