Bucs' worst fears confirmed; Joseph out for season
A banner hung on one of the outside walls of Raymond James Stadium carries a larger-than-life-size image of Pro Bowl right guard Davin Joseph and the phrase "Protect The Treasure.''
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, Joseph won't be protecting anything this year.
Joseph, who was injured just before halftime of the Bucs' 30-28 victory against the Patriots on Friday, will have surgery Monday to repair his right patellar tendon and will be placed on injured reserve, Bucs coach Greg Schiano said.
"It's a big loss but that's part of what we do,'' Schiano said. "You mourn and you move on. And that's what Davin wants us to do. He's going to have his surgery and we're going to fix our sights on how to move forward.''
Right now the Bucs sights are set on Ted Larsen, a third-year pro out of North Carolina State who started the last 11 games of the 2010 season at left guard and three more at left guard last year.
Larsen doesn't have a lock on the position, though. The Bucs have several options they plan to explore, including possibly moving center Jeremy Zuttah to guard and starting Larsen at center.
"We're going to try to work a couple of things,'' Schiano said. "Right now, I'm not sure. Obviously Larsen has worked there. But some of that has to be competed for I think. I don't think it's a knockdown slam dunk who it is there.''
The loss of Joseph, a team captain and undisputed leader of the offensive line, has left the entire right side of the line in flux with just two weeks to go before the start of the regular season.
In addition to being unsure of what to do at right guard, Schiano also is trying to figure out what to do at right tackle, where incumbent Jeremy Trueblood is suddenly having to fight off a challenge from Demar Dotson.
Schiano said he intends to have all the line issues decided well before the start of the season because he wants the unit to have time to prepare and that his ultimate goal is a rather simple one.
"We're trying to get the best five players on the field there,'' he said. "And I don't know if things are ever totally decided, but we better have a solid unit on opening day, that's for sure.''
While the situation along the right side of the offensive line is in a state of flux, the situation at running back appears to be solidifying thanks to the steady emergence of rookie Doug Martin.
Picked by many to be the starter after the Bucs traded back into the first round to get him in the draft this year, Martin seems to have surpassed incumbent LeGarrette Blount in the battle for lead back duties.
"That's why he moved in and started (against the Patriots), because he has shown me that much,'' Schiano said. "And I don't think he did anything (Friday) night that would make me say, 'Oh, that wasn't a good move.' "
Martin ran 13 times for 53 yards and a touchdown against New England and has run 27 times for 97 yards and two TDs while also catching four passes for 19 yards this preseason.
"He's run the ball well and done some other things well,'' Schiano said of the Boise State product. "Right now he just has to continue on that course. He's learning every day and he's a very open-minded guy. He wants to learn.''
While the Bucs learned Joseph's fate Saturday, they also learned that two other players who went down during the victory over the Patriots are not hurt seriously and should be ready when the season starts Sept. 9.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who left the game early after being hit on the left knee, and defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who left the game holding his left arm, "are going to be OK,'' Schiano said.
"I think they're going to be sore. In fact, I know they're sore today,'' Schiano added. "But give them a little time they'll be OK.''
Not so with Joseph.
|About the writer|
Roy Cummings has been The Tampa Tribune's primary Buccaneer beat writer for many years now and has a knowledge of the current players that is unsurpassed amongst local reporters. He also appears on Channel 8's news broadcasts on stories about the Bucs. He came to London with the Bucs in 2009 and was at Richmond Park to be part of the Bucs UK's most memorable day when the club took on the UK Patriots at touch football in front of many Bucs alumni and club officials.