MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18: Donald Penn #70 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings on the line at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 18, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images)
The second injury of the offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has come to light, and it's a pretty nasty one: Donald Penn has suffered a 'strained calf', and that could keep him out for a couple of weeks, or so head coach Greg Schiano said. If Penn only misses a few weeks, then he should be ready for the regular season to begin on September 9. But if he is to miss any more time, the Buccaneers could be in serious trouble: they don't have any dependable backup behind the left tackle, and protecting Josh Freeman's blind side has to be a priority for Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Jamon Meredith earlier this season to add some competition at tackle, but the fifth-year player has just four career starts and couldn't get on the field for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season despite a rash of injuries along the offensive line. Demar Dotson has been the eternal project for the Bucs, but has looked incompetent at left tackle whenever he took a few snaps there: he appears to be strictly a right tackle. The Bucs could look to free agency if Penn's injury persists, and a few intriguing players should be available: Marcus McNeil and Kareem McKenzie are both on the market - but neither is exactly a dependable starter right now.
The Buccaneers lost Da'Quan Bowers earlier this offseason, and he could be out for the entire season with an Achilles injury. With Donald Penn's injury stretching into preseason and possibly further, this is the second major injury for the Bucs this year. At least Penn should be healthy for the regular season, if not sooner - but the Bucs need to plan for the possibility that he won't be ready.