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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Encouraging news on injured Bucs Arrelious Benn and Amobi Okoye



Two injured Bucs are offering some encouraging news about their likelihood of playing in the team’s Sept. 9 season opener against the Panthers.

Receiver Arrelious Benn and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye both are seeing progress with their respective knee injuries and could realistically play in the game.

Benn, sidelined since the first day of training camp with a knee sprain, has been increasing his activity by the day and should be practicing within days. He said he’s ready and expects to be able to play when the regular season arrives.

The wait, however, has been excruciating.

“It’s tough sitting there watching” Benn said after Wednesday night’s game in Washington. “I went through an injury my rookie year, but I only missed one game. To sit there and watch a whole training camp go by is tough. But I’m not worried about anything. I’m just glad to be back.”

The big test for Benn now is to see whether he’s sharp upon his return after missing hundreds of practice reps and the entire preseason over the past four weeks. He vowed to be ready.

“The best thing I got done was just stay into it mentally,” said Benn, who was regularly at practice, shadowing his coaches. “That’s all I could do and I did that.”

Meanwhile, Okoye, a major key to the depth on the defensive line, said he sees some progress with his own knee injury. Okoye underwent what was described as a routine knee operation in June, but a history of issues with the knee and an initial setback in his recovery complicated matters.

“I came out and did the conditioning test (on July 28) and it felt good after that,” Okoye said. “I played in Miami (in the preseason opener). But I just think the constant beating and beating on it was an issue. It had some swelling and I just needed to continue to rehab it. I’m out there practicing on and off and I’m basically just getting it ready for Sundays. Right now it’s feeling better than it was even before the conditioning test.”

Okoye was a key offseason addition, signing a one-year $2 million deal. He is the most ideal backup to starting under tackle Gerald McCoy and is expected to have an important role on passing downs because of his pass-rush ability.

But before all that can play out, he’s got to be healthy. Okoye missed the past three preseason games after the setback, but he warmed up with the team before Wednesday night’s game in Washington and has been more involved in practice during the past few days.

“I just can’t wait until it’s time to go,” Okoye said.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 2:41pm]


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