The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to miss starting right tackle Demar Dotson for some eight weeks with a sprained (likely completely torn) MCL, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Dotson suffered the injury in last night's game against the Minnesota Vikings and had to be carted off. The Bucs feared that there might be damage to his ACL as well, but given the timetable that seems to not be the case.
With a timetable of eight weeks, Dotson is likely to miss the first four or five games of the season. Because Dotson has taken part in training camp so far, he can't be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He would be eligible for Injured Reserve, designated for return which would allow him to return after week six. The team is more likely to carry him on the regular season roster and allow him to return a week earlier, but they don't have to make that decision until the end of preseason.
When asked about replacing Dotson, Lovie Smith mentioned Kevin Pamphile and Patrick Omameh as likely stand-ins. Given that Dotson will be out for only the first part of the season, adding a free agent to strengthen the position seems unlikely. Pamphile looked okay at left tackle against the Vikings, but was inconsistent last season and really struggled when asked to play right tackle. Omameh has more experience, but hasn't actually looked competent at any point in time.
One worrying sign: Smith noted that Dotson was in the game at the end of the half because they wanted to protect Jameis Winston. But the Bucs had no issue rotating linemen at other positions, and Logan Mankins only played five snaps. That suggests that they really don't trust any of their backup options at right tackle -- and that's a problem.