Injuries are starting to take their toll on Tampa Bay’s offensive line.

Tackles Derrick Deese (ankle) and Kenyatta Walker (knee), guard Dan Buenning (knee) and center Scott Jackson (hand) are all sidelined with their respective injuries, and to make matters worse, T Lance Nimmo retired on Friday.

The player the Bucs are most concerned about is Deese, whose ankle injury is lingering and forcing the team to make some changes along the offensive line.

One of those changes came Saturday when the team signed T Jeff Hatch, who entered the NFL as a third-round pick with the New York Giants and originally joined Tampa Bay on April 12 before being released two weeks later.

“We had a roster change today,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “We re-signed Jeff Hatch, an offensive tackle, a guy who was previously with us in the spring, in our program. It’s awfully hard right now to find tackles, particularly guys who know our system. We don’t want to compromise what we’ve begun here, in spite of some injuries; we don’t want to rotate too many positions this early. Jeff Hatch will give us a chance to maintain some continuity. We’re going to continue to look hard, to do anything we can to find another tackle to add to our football team, a guy who could come in here and potentially help us immediately.”

The Bucs continued their search for offensive linemen on Saturday morning and afternoon by working out several players, including former Florida Atlantic T Ken Campos.

Although Anthony Davis has played well in Deese’s place, the uncertain timetable for Deese’s return has the Bucs looking at all options.

“Obviously we’re concerned, or we wouldn’t be signing Jeff Hatch and looking to get another tackle, whether it be a current free agent or via a trade,” said Gruden. “I’m very pleased with Anthony Davis, but I am concerned obviously about Derrick Deese. He missed numerous days last year in training camp and it’s very, very hard on him right now. It’s a frustrating injury for all of us. The thing about football is, nobody waits. You’ve got to be able to move forward, and we’ve got to do that in his absence.”

As of right now, Deese’s injury will not require surgery.

“Well I think the difference was last year he had surgery to correct the injury,” Gruden said when asked if the injury was similar to the one Deese had last year. “This year, so far, the tests haven’t revealed any need for surgery. That’s a positive. This injury might be one that just needs a few days to heal, so we have immobilized the injury and hopefully a few days will be just what the doctor ordered. But in the time being we’ve got to get our offensive line ready for the Tennessee Titans. And to be fair to them and to be honest with ourselves, we need to add some players to the tackle position. We’re going to do everything we can to get that done.”

Should Deese not recover in a timely manner, the Bucs appear to be comfortable entering the season with Davis as their starting left tackle.

“Yeah he can move up,” Gruden said of Deese. “He has moved up, we’ve said that already. He is a physical presence. He has a triceps injury right now he’s fighting through, but he gives us some real thump on the left side. He makes our running game come to life a little bit on the left side. His pass protection is improving. I think if we can get another healthy left tackle in here to take some of the reps off him we’ll see a little bit more execution in all phases from him. He gets a little sluggish and tired late in practice, and that’s expected.”

In other injury news, linebacker Marquis Cooper (back), defensive tackle Damian Gregory (unknown) and fullback Rick Razzano were held out of the morning practice.

For the second time in the first week of training camp, the Bucs had an on-field skirmish take place, this one occurring during a 7-on-7 drill on Saturday morning.

The incident occurred after safety Kalvin Pearson drilled running back Ian Smart, driving the running back to the ground. That hard hit didn’t sit well with Smart or FB Mike Alstott, who grabbed Pearson by the jersey as the two players exchanged words.

The skirmish was broken up within seconds by several players, but Gruden wasn’t happy about the fight, or Pearson’s hit, taking place at all.

“I didn’t like that,” Gruden said. “I didn’t like the hit that was put on our back. That’s inexcusable. I’ve talked to Pearson about that. You’re not going to make our team playing like that, with that type of etiquette. When that happens, there are going to be tempers that flare, and sometimes that’s a good thing, to be honest with you. That won’t be tolerated. If you can’t understand our practice etiquette, you can’t understand how we’re going to play here. Those types of things are inexcusable and won’t be tolerated.”

For the first time in training camp, wide receiver Joey Galloway practiced in full pads with the rest of his teammates on Saturday morning, and he didn’t disappoint.

“Galloway, again, as I’ve said since I’ve been here, is a great player,” said Gruden. “I think he’s a great player. He’s as fun to come to the practice field with and to come to game day with as any player I’ve been associated with. I’ve been fortunate to be around some of the best. He has great speed, he is a very, very good football player, and he’s a difference-maker. I think he had three or four touchdowns again today. We’re going to try to keep him healthy for 16 games and we think this guy can really light it up.”

Tampa Bay K Todd France was 4-of-4 on field goal attempts during the morning practice. Matt Bryant was only 3-of-4, and according to Gruden, France is winning the competition at that position right now.

“Again, France is kicking the ball through the uprights,” said Gruden. “His get-off times are good, his trajectory on the ball is impressive. I’ve been really enthused with him. Matt Bryant regained his stroke but then again I think he missed a couple towards the end of his opportunity. He’s got to pick it up. Right now, Todd France is leading that battle on the practice field, but the games will ultimately have a lot to do with who’s our kicker.”

While France is outperforming Bryant on the practice field, the Bucs have not yet determined which kicker will get the first opportunity to kick in the team’s first preseason game at Tennessee.

“I won’t say that right now,” Gruden said. “We have a lot of confidence in Matt Bryant. He’s been here with us for a long time, since the offseason began, and has kicked the ball well. We’ll announce our rotations for the Titans next week.”

The Bucs did not hold an afternoon practice on Saturday. Instead, the players and coaches had “Family Day” at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.

“All the wives and families and girlfriends of these players are in town and we gave them the afternoon off,” said Gruden. “It’s time to do that, get out of the hotel, call somebody you love or be with somebody you love, and come back rejuvenated, because next week’s a big week for us.”

The Buccaneers announced on Saturday the release of the 2005 edition of the Buccaneers Family Cookbook, sponsored by Raymond James Financial.

“We are excited to provide our fans with the opportunity to support the PACE Center while also sharing some great recipes from our entire organization,” said Bucs executive vice president Joel Glazer.

The book, which costs $20, includes 140 recipes from Bucs coaches, players, staff members and cheerleaders. Proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the PACE Center for Girls, Inc. in Tampa.

To secure your copy of the cookbook, visit Buccaneers.com.

If you liked this story, be sure to get the inside scoop and more detailed information on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offseason plans regarding roster changes, free agency and the NFL Draft with a Pewter Insider premium subscription.

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