The Buccaneers suffered their first major injury of season when Demar Dotson sprained his MCL in the first week of exhibition games against Minnesota.
Initially, many feared the worst – a torn ACL – when the Bucs longest-tenured player had to be carted off the field. But after further evaluation the following day, Dotson was reported to be out the first six weeks of the regular season.
Six weeks and five games into the year, Dotson has officially begun his 21-day practice period and is expected to return on November 2.
“It’s been a long wait. I’m excited about it,” Dotson said Tuesday in open locker about his return to the field. “I get a chance to play for the first time and we’ll see how it goes. But I’m excited, man. (I’ve) Just been sitting back and watching these guys and chomping at the bit.”
The 6-foot-9 tackle has watched the offensive line, including his replacement, steadily progress as the season’s gone on.
In the face of injuries and inexperience, the five-man front has continued to silence critics, blocking for multiple 100-yard rush outings while keeping Jameis Winston relatively clean. Dotson praised the newcomers’ seamless transition and the rookies’ rapid development along the O-Line.
“They’ve been competing, fighting, scratching and crawling and doing everything they’ve been asked to do,” he said. “Kevin (Pamphile) stepped in and played well when Logan went down. We brought a center in from Atlanta (Joe Hawley) and he stepped in when Evan (Smith) went down and played well. And Gos (Goster Cherilus) over there at right tackle has been playing extremely well. He’s a guys who’s been playing this game for a long time, so you don’t expect anything less.
“And the two rookies you can’t say enough about them,” Dotson continued, speaking about Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith. “They’ve done a phenomenal job. I think they’re both ahead of their time. When you see a guy like Ali and the play he’s put on the field for a guy who came from D-III, you just have to tip your hat to him and appreciate his work ethic and what he brings to the game.”
The offensive line will need to continue improving without him for a little longer. While Dotson’s eligible to practice, he’s still rehabbing his knee and estimates another two weeks before he’s completely healthy.
Still, the 21 day practice period is a start and the seventh-year pro is anxious to get back on the field.
“Just Sunday’s, man,” Dotson said, asked what he misses most about playing. “Suiting up on Sunday’s, the atmosphere and just running around out there like a kid.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get well soon! Go Bucs!
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