There is no question that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had to deal with their fair share of injuries this preseason. With week one less than two weeks away, it is worth noting that a few key players still remain sidelined for Tampa Bay. Head Coach Dirk Koetter isn’t one to elaborate or really share any information on injuries, but we have received updates on some of the players missing in the last few days.
DT Vita Vea: Vea has missed nearly all of training camp with an injury. The rookie defensive tackle went down with an injury back on July 29th and hasn’t practiced since. He was diagnosed with a strained calf and the timetable for his return was 2-3 weeks. It is obviously way past that time frame, but the big defensive tackle is getting ready to make his return. It’s likely that we will see Vea return to practice after the fourth preseason game. The important date for Vea is Monday, September 3rd. It’s imperative he can practice by then if he wants to play week one. Koetter commented on Vea’s status after practice on Sunday.
“He’s right on track to be back and that part is all good. I mean, are we pleased? It’s hard to be pleased when your first-round pick hasn’t been out at practice very much. But that’s nothing that he can control, we’re not mad at him about it. It’s just one of those things. He had an injury, it has to heal. He’s on the right track,” Koetter said. “He was out running with the trainers today in full gear before practice, so he’s getting close and everything you said still holds true.
DT Mitch Unrein: For a while, we didn’t really know what the injury to Unrein was, but it was recently revealed that the veteran defensive tackle has a concussion. Obviously, concussions are very serious injuries and are something that teams don’t mess around with anymore. They can be tricky and they just take time to heal. With that being said, some concussions take longer than others. The Buccaneers haven’t expressed much concern in regards to Unrein being ready for week one, but they also have no control over the situation and Koetter alluded to that after today’s practice.
“Mitch is in concussion protocol and once a guy enters concussion protocol then it’s handled by the medical people,” Koetter said. “Until they can get out of concussion protocol there’s really nothing else I can say or anybody else can say.”
LB Kendall Beckwith: This injury is a big one and one that hasn’t drawn much conversation around camp. The Buccaneers have kept awfully quiet about Beckwith ever since they announced his injury in late April. Beckwith, who was in a car accident in Louisiana, broke his ankle and needed surgery to repair it. At that time, it seemed like it was 50-50 whether or not Beckwith would be available to play week one. The way it’s looking now, it doesn’t seem likely. Beckwith hasn’t practiced all camp and there have been virtually no reports of him doing any side work with the trainers. He was a pleasant surprise last year at linebacker and the Buccaneers were hoping to have him back for week one. Nothing is set in stone of course, but the team may face the decision of leaving him inactive for a few weeks or placing him on the PUP list which would mean he would be out for the first six weeks of the regular season.
OT Donovan Smith: It has only been six days since he was injured, but Smith is still not practicing. He was diagnosed with a knee sprain and the timetable for his return was 2-4 weeks. Week one of the regular season is smack in the middle of that timetable (3 weeks). Again, you’d like to see Smith get at least a few limited practices in during game week, but with him it’s probably not a must. It was reported by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that the team was “hopeful” he would be ready for week one. I’m putting my money on Smith to play and extend that game played streak to 49. Koetter has not given an update on Smith since the injury occured, but according to Pewter Report, Smith was seen in the locker room today and told the media “I’m good. I’m good.”
Hopefully Tampa Bay will not be without all four of these guys for much longer.