Buccaneers starting left tackle Anthony Collins sat out of practice for the second straight day Thursday with what’s only been described as a foot injury.
While head coach Lovie Smith was as vague in his reporting of Collins’ projected status for Sunday as the team has been with the lineman’s actually injury, he did say missing Wednesday and Thursday is not a good sign for any player.
“Anthony Collins is getting better – we had three guys who didn’t practice today,” Smith said. “Anthony Collins, Brandon Magee and Doug Martin, kind of like yesterday. They’re getting better but they weren’t able to go today.
“These were two important days and if you don’t go, there’s cause for concern a little bit.”
When asked if he’s concerned about the potential of not having Collins available in Cleveland, Smith simply said it’s too soon for that.
“I think it’s a little early for that,” he said. “The possibility is concerning when you don’t have your starting left tackle, but I wouldn’t say were at that stage yet. Some games it takes you a little bit longer to recover, some of the soreness. But it’s not like it’s a serious injury or anything like that. But just like any other position, if somebody can’t go, it’s next man up. It’s that way with running back, linebacker and whatever else we have.”
That next man up would be seventh-year veteran and former Cleveland Brown Oniel Cousins. The UTEP grad’s played in all seven games but started none. Cousins has started nine of his 66 career games played, including four last year in Cleveland.
Tampa Bay has three other backup lineman and rookies Kadeem Edwards and Kevin Pamphile have been inactive for every game this season. Garrett Gilkey, also formerly of the Browns, has played across the interior line in all seven games.
Collins came to Tampa Bay this offseason from Cincinnati on a 5-year, $30-million contract as one of the team’s premier free agent signings. Expectations of that acquisition have not yet been met, however, as the Bucs’ offensive line has struggled in both pass protection and run blocking.