Bucs guard Sweezy appears headed to PUP, return expected after five games
The back injury that has sidelined guard J.R. Sweezy since signing a $32.5-million contract with the Bucs in March is healing but troublesome enough that the club likely will place him on the Physically Unable to Perform list, costing him the first five games of the season.
Sweezy, a free agent from Seattle who was tabbed to replace retired starter Logan Mankins at left guard, had surgery on a herniated disc in the spring after joining the team. Last week, Sweezy received a second opinion from a doctor in California who did not do the surgery and came away pleased with the results.
“Just went and got it checked out. Everything is good. I’m on track,’’ Sweezy said Saturday. “I’m taking it day by day and trying to get back to where I need to be to play at the level I need to play at.’’
Sweezy’s injury appears similar to the one suffered last season by defensive tackle Akeem Spence, who had a discectomy on a herniation in his back and showed no ill effects after missing five games.
The Bucs, who guaranteed $14.5-million of Sweezy’s salary, passed him on a physical in March but he has not spent one day on the practice field. The Seahawks are believed to have offered Sweezy the same deal and he also received interest from the Falcons and Titans.
Because of the long-term investment, the Bucs plan to be overly cautious to make sure he is 100 percent when he returns as soon as Oct. 23 against the 49ers. The Bucs bye week comes in Week 6.
The Bucs three more weeks to evaluate Sweezy before making a decision since that's the earliest they can place a player on the reserve PUP list once rosters are trimmed to 75. Another option would be to carry him on the 53-man roster if they believe he would be ready sometime in Sept.
The Bucs are fortunate to have third-year pro Kevin Pamphile to play left guard until Sweezy returns. Pamphile gave up one pressure against the Eagles Thursday night but otherwise has performed well in training camp.
Under an old regime, the Bucs paid for rushing a player back too soon from injury. Free agent guard Carl Nicks, who contracted MRSA in his big toe, appeared in only nine games with the Bucs in two seasons. He reached an injury settlement with the team in 2012, ending his career.