The Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep losing players to injury in every single game the play. This time, it’s center Evan Smith. The lineman suffered a knee injury early in the first half, and was officially ruled out for the game just after the half. It’s not clear how serious his injury was.
Smith himself was starting for Joe Hawley, who was forced to miss this game with a knee injury. Also missing this game with an injury: starting left guard Kevin Pamphile, because of a concussion. Pamphile himself was only starting because free agent signing J.R. Sweezy has not been healthy at any point this entire year.
All of that means the Bucs are now lining up fifth-round rookie Caleb Benenoch at left guard, and third-year undrafted free agent Ben Gottschalk at center. The Bucs only signed Gottschalk to the roster yesterday, as he was on their practice squad before that.
And despite all of that, the Bucs are leading 24-10 and doing pretty well. Jameis Winston is under pressure and there’s not a lot of running room, but they’re at least making things work. Which is a little surprising, but good to see.
The Bucs should get Joe Hawley back next week, regardless of what happens with Smith. Pamphile’s return is harder to predict, given that he’s in the concussions protocol and those concussions can linger.