The Bucs were in good shape, injury-wise after breaking training camp last Thursday with no serious injuries. That good luck came to an abrupt end on Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, losing linebackers Antoine Cash and Sam Olajubutu and guard Jeb Terry.
Cash was placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his 2007 season, with a knee injury after suffering the injury playing special teams vs. Jaguars. Olajubutu injured his Achilles tendon during pre-game warm-ups and was also lost for the season. Terry was carted off the field with an apparent right ankle injury and will not suit up for Saturday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
Head coach Jon Gruden, however, expects to have Terry back on the field in the next couple of weeks. Terry was seen during Monday’s practice with a walking boot on his right leg and was on crutches.
“Jeb Terry will not play this week and we hope to get him back some time here soon,” Gruden said.
Cash was battling for a roster spot at the middle linebacker position with Barrett Ruud and Ryan Nece. Cash was fourth on the team last season with 17 tackles on special teams. Gruden was a little disappointed with the loss of Cash because of injury.
“It’s unfortunate because he was really coming on” Gruden said. “He’s a good, young linebacker and he will be out for the season and that’s a big loss for us.”
Safety Tanard Jackson and cornerback Phillip Buchanon were held out of Monday’s practice with minor injuries. Jackson, who left the game against Jacksonville early in the second half, has a mild hamstring pull to his right leg and should return to practice this week.
Buchanon was seen wearing a brace on his right hand and didn’t participate in any drills. Gruden wasn’t too worried about Buchanon’s injury at the end of Monday’s practice.
“He’s going to be okay, his status for the next couple of days is in question, but he is going to be okay,” Gruden said.
CENTER POSITION UP FOR GRABS Even though center John Wade received most of the reps with the first-team offense during training camp, Gruden went out of his way on Monday to let it be known that the center position is far from settled. That was apparent on Saturday night when center Matt Lehr got the start and worked with the first-team offense.
Wade had 14 snaps against the Jaguars with the second-team offense and center Dan Beunning, who is trying to rebound after knee surgery, got some snaps at center in the fourth quarter. Wade has been the starter for all 16 games in three of his four years with the Bucs, but Lehr and Beunning still have the opportunity to state their cases for the starting position.
“Obviously Dan Beunning is coming back and he deserves some action with the ones I think at some point,” Gruden said. “John Wade played 14 plays against Jacksonville, but nobody has taken that job over and won it yet.”
DE ADAMS SHOWING IMPROVEMENT Rookie defensive end Gaines Adams showed some more progress at his position against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Adams had two tackles, one sack and a forced fumble during his time on the field. Adams also was seen hustling down the field, pursuing the ball carrier after he was taken out of the play.
His effort did not go unnoticed by Gruden and he is happy with the improvement of his first-round selection.
“He had a sack, caused a fumble and any time you have a sack and cause a fumble, those are two impact plays in a game,” Gruden said. “I think he’s getting better as a base end, he’s rushing from both sides, right and left, in the nickel and he is getting better. He’s a very good athlete with some real good natural pass rush and closing speed and he’s getting better.”
CARTER RETURNING TO MIAMI Newcomer Kevin Carter started at left defensive end for the Buccaneers when they clashed with their in-state rival, the Jacksonville Jaguars, on Saturday night.
He made the most of his playing time, sacking Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich in the first quarter. Carter is battling Greg Spires for the right to start at left end, and he’s also seeing some playing time at under tackle.
Carter, 33, has never missed an NFL game since entering the league in 1995. He also has 97.5 career sacks.
According to Gruden, there are also some things Carter does during games that he doesn’t necessarily get enough credit for.
“He had some good pass rushes, he had some good run-downs. He’s a physical guy that can push the pocket,” Gruden said. “All of the things that he brings to a team sometimes don’t go up on a stat sheet. You diagnose those draws and screens; he bats passes down because of his size; and his temperament is perfect for this defense. He’s a leader here already, and he was very flashy early in the football game. He played extremely well.”
Before he joined Tampa Bay this offseason, Carter spent the past two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, who just happen to be the Bucs’ next preseason opponent.
Despite the fact that the Dolphins are his former team, Carter doesn’t view Tampa Bay’s next exhibition contest much differently than any other one.
“It doesn’t mean much more than being able to say hello to a lot of people that I know,” said Carter.
QUOTE OF THE DAY Gruden on if the starters are going to play longer against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night in the team’s third preseason game.
“We don’t know who the starters are at some positions so it’s hard to answer that, there’s guys we need to see a lot of because we are running out of opportunities to evaluate them. We will see some of the starters go a little bit longer. You saw our offensive line go a little bit longer and some of the other guys. You might see a couple of the receivers get a longer look on Saturday night, but where we have real intense competition you will see some split action from some people.”
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