On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that franchise player Antonio Bryant will miss all four preseason games. The 28-year old wide receiver is having a chronic knee swelling issue addressed by having the scoped. The surgery is expected to repair a meniscus ailment in his left knee. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris discussed Bryant's injury after practice on Monday.
"Antonio Bryant, we are going to go ahead and work on that knee," said Morris. "We are going to scope it, and clean that thing out. We are going to get him ready for the regular season. He ran out there the other day. It swelled up on him again. It is just not worth it. Let's get him ready for Dallas. Let's sit him down for three weeks. He could probably come back for the last preseason game, but I'm going to be mentally weak and not play him and just wait until Dallas, but we're not sure yet. Let's get that thing fixed, and be ready for Dallas."
Bryant led the Buccaneers with 83 catches for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Morris said it is the same knee that Bryant had some issues with early last season.
"He banged in the Carolina game, and it has lingered," said Morris. "It goes away, and then swells up, so we are just going ahead and taking care of it, and get him ready for Dallas. He's had a good training camp so far."
Bryant had a big game against Carolina on Monday Night Football. He caught nine passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. One of his touchdown catches was diving one-handed stab.
Morris said that he does not expect Bryant to be rusty when the season starts, but the quarterbacks will have not had the luxury to practice with Bryant and develop timing and chemistry with their number one receiver.
"I'm not sure he loses it, but the quarterbacks do," said Morris. "There is nothing like going out there and throwing to Antonio Bryant. He is a big, strong guy that is going to make plays for you. Sometimes you throw a bad ball and he makes you look good, so they will miss him for timing and rhythm, but he was here in the offseason a lot. He did get a lot of work in camp, so I'm feeling good about his timing and precision."
Replacing Bryant as a starter is wide receiver Brian Clark on the official depth chart that was released on Monday. Morris said he could not say if any other players were not going to be ready for the Bucs preseason opener at the Tennessee Titans on Saturday. Morris said Bryant's counterpart at wide receiver is the only player he could project that could miss the game.
"Maybe Clayton. That might be a precautionary thing," said Morris. "Clayton was walking around and jogging. He is getting revved up."
MORRIS DISCUSSES QUARTERBACKS Entering the first preseason game, Morris said quarterback Luke McCown would start the contest against the Tennessee Titans. Competing with McCown for the starting quarterback job is veteran Byron Leftwich. Morris said that Leftwich would start the second preseason game against his former team the Jacksonville Jaguars. The decision to start McCown was a long time coming for Morris.
"I thought about it when I took the job. Let's give Luke an opportunity," said Morris. "There is nobody on this football team that is going to be able to tell you that they didn't get an opportunity to make the team. I promised Luke from day one, and that was a promise I gave to all of them, I'm going to give you the best opportunity to win a starting job. It was the same thing I told [Byron Leftwich], and Josh Johnson."
McCown said that being the starter in the regular season is his focus.
"I don't know about a depth chart," McCown said. "I come out here in practice and compete everyday to be the starter. We've got four preseason games to play and that will tell the rest of the story. It's just a matter of staying mentally focused, being consistent and moving the ball down the field."
McCown also assessed where he was at 10 days into training camp.
"In training camp I feel like I'm getting the ball out quick," McCown said. "I'm making quick, correct decisions and I'm certainly a lot more consistent than I was this spring. That was something that I emphasized and once we get into the game I will really be able to gauge where I'm at."
Morris said that Leftwich would get the starting nod against his former team the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We'll go with Byron Leftwich against Jacksonville," said Morris. MISSING IN ACTION ON MONDAY The Buccaneers had a number of players sitting out Monday's practice. Morris designated all of the injuries as minor. He said linebacker Rod Wilson stopped practicing a little early due to a stinger, but he is okay.
Missing the workout was: running backs Derrick Ward (foot) and Clifton Smith (hamstring), center Jeff Faine (groin), right tackle Jeremy Trueblood (back), linebacker Angelo Crowell (hamstring), defensive tackle Greg Peterson (knee), center Sean Mahan (calf) and receivers Michael Clayton (hamstring), Anthony Bryant (undisclosed), Joel Filani (hamstring) and Kelly Campbell (quad) did not participate due to injury.
Other than Bryant, Morris said all of the injured Bucs players are day-to-day, and should all return soon.