The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t make any big-time splash moves this past offseason, but question marks continue to surround one of their main acquisitions.
Offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy hasn’t worked single rep in pewter and red this offseason, let alone training camp, and head coach Dirk Koetter revealed Tuesday that he’s not even at One Buc Place, let alone the state of Florida.
“J.R. has been out of town and he’s been seeing a doctor in California,” Koetter said.
He wouldn’t say if it’s to be considered a setback in the 27-year-old’s recovery from an unspecified back injury, however.
“I’m not the doctor and I haven’t talked to the doctor, but we’ll let you know as soon as we know something we can tell you.”
The injury Sweezy’s recovering from has yet to be specified by the team, but as PewterReport.com first reported last month, he underwent a procedure on his back this offseason.
Entering his first season with the Bucs after spending his first four in Seattle, Sweezy signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal in March. Expectations are for him to replace the retired Logan Mankins at left guard. Those prospects are dimming, especially after Sweezy joined Louis Murphy on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp.
Without knowing what the 6-foot-5, 298-pound guard’s injury is it’s impossible to speculate on when he’ll be able to finally get on the field. Traveling across the country to seek medical evaluations or treatments in the middle of training camp, though, does not give it the appearance of a routine situation.
Mankins’ retirement created a void at left guard that the team filled with Sweezy, but his extended absence makes the position’s strength an uncertainty.
A positive from Tuesday was the return of Kevin Pamphile. The third-year Buc has been the main benefactor of Sweezy’s inability to participate, leading him to be listed as the starting left guard on Monday’s first depth chart.
Until more comes out on Sweezy’s status, the Bucs will move forward with Pamphile at left guard, followed by Josh Allen and Joel Hale. Fifth-round draft pick Caleb Benenoch is another option the team would like to explore, but he suffered an early camp injury that’s put him on crutches.
Sweezy has never missed significant time as a pro, playing in 59 of 64 games over four seasons. He started the first 15 games for the Seahawks last year before a shoulder injury kept him out of Week 17’s finale against Arizona. Sweezy then returned in time to start first- and second-round playoff games.