Defensive end Patrick Chukwurah was brought in to supply a speed rush on the outside that the Bucs lost when they released Simeon Rice. After battling with defensive ends Kevin Carter and Gaines Adams for the starting position, Chukwurah left the preseason contest with the Miami Dolphins with a knee injury.
Pewterreport.com learned on Monday that Chukwurah sustained a slight tear of the MCL in his right knee and is projected to be out of action for 3-6 weeks. Chukwurah has been rehabbing the injury for the past two weeks and hopes to be back for the Bucs home opener in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.
“They say it’s anywhere from 3-6 weeks, depending on the person and how the person heals,” Chukwurah said. “It depends on how bad it is, that plays a part, but like I’ve told everyone I’m trying to shoot for the home opener. We have to see how it goes, I really can’t guarantee anything.”
Chukwurah’s injury isn’t that big of a blow to the defensive line because of the depth the Bucs have at defensive end. With a rotation at defensive end including Carter, Adams, Greg Spires and Greg White, the Bucs have the option of allowing Chukwurah ample time to rehab the injury and make sure he’s healthy when he returns to action.
While Carter was being moved around on the defensive line from end to tackle, Adams has made steady improvements during the preseason and was challenging Chukwurah for the starting right defensive end spot.
“That’s something that I can’t look forward to,” Adams said. “I just need to come here and work on the things that I need to work on to make me a better player. I can’t focus on being a starter right now. That’s really a big jump right now with me being a rookie. I’m just trying to take it one step at a time right now and try to get better.”
Adams will certainly need to be focused. His first assignment will be to go up against Seahawks Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones.
“That’s a good way for me to start off,” Adams said. “If I can go out and perform well and establish myself in this league, that will be a big confidence boost for me.”
Chukwurah, who was signed as a free agent from Denver during the offseason, was getting his first opportunity for playing time at defensive end with the Bucs. During his four-year tenure with the Broncos, Chukwurah played linebacker and made contributions on the special teams as well.
Chukwurah hasn’t been able to do too much rehab on the knee in the past couple of weeks because he’s still waiting on the knee to “calm down”. Chukwurah was seen walking around the locker room at One Buc Place with a brace on his right knee. Chukwurah was in a cast originally, but that came off sometime last week.
“I’m just working on trying to get my motion back, working on getting my walk back, you know walking normally,” Chukwurah said. “Then from there, go to a jog and then some running and doing little cuts and stuff like that. I just got to get where it’s calmed down a little bit so I can start doing some serious rehab on it.”
Head coach Jon Gruden made it official after Monday’s practice that Chukwurah was out for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle.
“Patrick Chukwurah is the one guy that looks like he will be out of the game,” Gruden said. “Everyone else looks like they’re status quo, ready to go.”
ROOKIES READY FOR NFL DEBUT
Safeties Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson, guard Arron Sears, and defensive end Gaines Adams are expected to see time on the field against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. All four players will experience the NFL regular season for the first time in their careers.
Despite seeing a good amount of playing time during the preseason, the regular season is a different animal in itself. Now the games matter, every game holds the balance of a season and every play will determine the success or failure of the Bucs this season. However, these four rookies don’t seem to be worried about seeing their first regular season action.
“I’m just glad to be healthy and being able to step into the game,” Sears said. “We are going against a great football team, a great defensive line. They are good year in and year out and it’s just great to be with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first game of the season healthy.”
Piscitelli showed a flash of what he can do at safety against the Houston Texans in the final preseason contest. Piscitelli played the majority of the contest and was seen flying around the ball. He recorded two tackles and had one interception in the 31-24 victory over the Texans.
“It’s just great for me to go out there and playing and being confident, just letting it loose,” Piscitelli said. “That was the biggest thing because that was my first game just going out there and playing. I had a couple of things early in camp that slowed me down and I think it was good to just go out there and play and help my team win.”
Piscitelli feels that with every day he’s getting more comfortable with the system so that he’s able to just go out and react on the field, instead of thinking about what to do.
“I think that was the biggest step in the game [against Houston] was as a rookie, I still have to whole year for it to come more and more,” Piscitelli said. “But as a rookie you think so much and if you think so much you don’t react as fast and you don’t play fast so you don’t make a lot of plays. But when you are out there just reacting and it’s second nature, that’s when you start making plays.”
The initial shock of playing in the NFL has worn off for Adams, who was the fourth overall selection for the Bucs, and he’s just preparing for the Seahawks.
“It has sunk in for me,” Adams said. “The first preseason game it sunk in for me. So overall, I have to come out, work hard and prepare for this first game.”
BIDDLE, MADISON GET ACQUAINTED WITH TEAMMATES
Wide receiver Taye Biddle and cornerback Anthony Madison got to meet their new teammates on Monday after being signed by the Bucs on Sunday and should be at practice on Wednesday. Biddle, who was signed on Sunday, adds speed and depth at the wide receiver position. He also can field punts and kickoffs.
“I bring another receiver and some extra speed on the side,” Biddle said. “I can catch the ball good and I’m just here to make plays.”
Biddle had yet to meet with Gruden in a one-on-one setting, but was going to get his first look at the Bucs offensive playbook on Monday. Biddle wasn’t aware that the Bucs had never returned a kickoff for a touchdown, but was all smiles about the opportunity to change that this season.
“No I did not know that, but hopefully this year we can change that,” Biddle said.
Gruden spoke briefly about the new additions to the Bucs after Monday’s practice at One Buc Place.
“Taye Biddle, a wide receiver, a guy that can run, really run,” Gruden said. “A guy that has some return ability and a guy that has rare speed. We are excited to work with him, you can never have enough of that. Joey Galloway gives us great speed, David Boston gives us speed and now Tae Biddle gives us speed. Anthony Madison is a good corner, an interesting guy. A good special teams player that was in a log jam obviously and our scouts did a good job bringing him to us. So Anthony Madison will bolster our cornerback group and also be a key contributor on special teams.”
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