It was almost exactly one year ago that the injury bug took a bite out of Tampa Bay’s offensive line.
Left guard Dan Buenning, who was coming off an impressive rookie season in 2005, suffered an ankle injury during the ’06 preseason, and the Bucs lost ’06 first-round draft pick, guard Davin Joseph, on the practice field when he sustained a serious knee injury in the week leading up to the team’s first regular season contest of the year.
History repeated itself on Tuesday afternoon when rookie G Arron Sears sustained what the team is calling an ankle sprain during a passing and pass protection period in practice.
With the help of several of his teammates, Sears hobbled to the sideline. But the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Sears couldn’t put pressure on his right ankle, which eventually led to a cart having to be called out to take him off of the football field.
Several minutes later, Sears walked out of One Buc Place on crutches and got into a truck, which was believed to have taken him to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
By the end of Tuesday afternoon’s practice, the severity of Sears’ ankle sprain had not yet been determined, but the Bucs were optimistic.
“It’s just disappointing,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of Sears’ injury. “I’m not going to say that he’s out; he could be back here this afternoon, you never know. Last year we lost Joseph, [Kenyatta] Walker and [Dan] Buenning – that was hard to swallow. We’ve lost quarterbacks, we’ve lost a lot of players here. We lost [defensive end] Simeon Rice and we lost a number of guys that went down. That’s just part of this business. Again, I don’t want to speculate and sound too negative – ‘Woe is us.’ There’s a good chance he’ll be okay.”
Should Sears be sidelined for any length of time, Tampa Bay offensive lineman Anthony Davis, who is making the transition from left tackle to left guard this year, likely would start in his place.
“He’s played left tackle, he’s played left guard – that’s hard to do in this league,” Gruden said of Davis, who was Tampa Bay’s starting left tackle over the past two seasons. “I don’t care what anybody says, not a lot of guys do that, move from left tackle to left guard in the course of a game, let alone a practice. But he’s made strides at guard, and he’s also worked hard at tackle. [Tackle] Donald Penn is emerging and has helped us look at Anthony at left guard, and we’re excited with the versatility that Anthony’s showing. He’s gotten better yet he has a long way to go.”
According to Davis (6-4, 329), bouncing back and forth from tackle to guard and from guard to tackle is not as bad as it might seem.
“It hasn’t been hard at al,” said Davis. “I’m a team guy and I want to do whatever I can to help this team win. I accepted the challenge that [Bucs offensive line coach Bill] Muir put in front of me and I’m just trying to execute to the best of my ability.”
Buenning, who is competing for playing time at both guard and center, could also be called on if Sears' injury is going to keep him sidelined for any length of time.
In other injury news, Bucs cornerback Phillip Buchanon (hand) and safety Tanard Jackson (hamstring) were held out of Tuesday afternoon’s practice.
Center John Wade had to leave practice early due to nausea and dehydration.
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