Back healthy, tackle Kelvin Palmer hoping to stick with Bucs
Less than a year removed from a major knee injury, Kelvin Palmer is healthy and hoping to make the most of a late opportunity to join the Bucs in training camp.
Palmer, signed by the Bucs for depth on Aug. 8 as an injury replacement, didn't initially expect to be back this soon, after injuring his left knee in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game with the Steelers last season. He tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his knee, expecting to miss a full year after surgery in September and spending the season on injured reserve.
"It's a real blessing," said the 23-year-old Palmer, who is 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds. "I'm feeling like I never was hurt. I was supposed to be out a full year but I busted my (butt)."
Undrafted out of Baylor, Palmer spent the 2014 season on the Cardinals' practice squad and was competing for a backup job with the Steelers when he injured his knee. After being cut by the Steelers this spring, he worked out for the Bucs, and while he's unlikely to make their 53-man roster, he still has practice-squad eligibility.
The Bucs have struggled with injuries on the offensive line, with guards J.R. Sweezy and Caleb Benenoch missing significant time, then tackle Caylin Hauptmann left the team just days after signing. Palmer got 13 snaps in the fourth quarter of Thursday's preseason opener, and with rookie Leonard Wester sidelined in practice since, he's been working as the Bucs' second-string left tackle.
"I stepped in, took advantage of the opportunity to get the extra reps and the extra work in," said Palmer, once a teammate of Robert Griffin III at Baylor. "I want to show the coaches that I'm here to play."