Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Bryant will miss preseason with torn cartilage in knee
Bucs franchise WR Antonio Bryant will miss three weeks with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Coach Raheem Morris said Bryant will not play in the preseason as a precaution but will be ready for the season opener against Dallas Sept. 13.
"We're going to go ahead and work on that knee,'' Morris said. "We're going to go ahead and scope it, clean that thing out, get him ready for the season. He ran out there. He was ready to go the other day, ran out there and it swelled up a little on him again. "It's just not worth it. Let's get him ready for Dallas. Let's sit him down for three weeks. He probably could come back the last preseason game, but I'm probably going to be mentally weak and not play him and just wait for Dallas and we'll figure that out as we go.''
Bryant said he was injured during a night workout at Raymond James Stadium on Aug. 1 while trying to recover a fumble. He missed four days of practice. He returned to practice Friday and Saturday, but apparently, the knee suffered more swelling. It's the same knee that Bryant injured last season at Carolina Dec. 8 when he torched the Panthers with nine catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
"I know he banged it, I believe it was the Carolina game when he had his big, 200-yard game and he kind of just walked it off,'' Morris said. "It's just kind of been lingering. It goes away, it swells up and goes away and swells up. So now, it's just not worth it. Just go ahead and fix it up and get him ready for Dallas. He's had a pretty good training camp so far.'
"The injury to Bryant leaves the Bucs without either starting receiver. Michael Clayton has a hamstring strain and has not practiced since early last week. He is not expected to play in Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee.
In his first season with the Bucs, Bryant had a breakout year, leading the team in receiving with 83 catches for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns. That performance convinced the Bucs to use their franchise tag on Bryant, who signed a 1-year contract worth $9.888-million.
Morris said Bryant's injury is similar to one cornerback Ronde Barber suffered two years ago.
"Ronde Barber had it a couple of years ago and was back after the bye week,'' Morris said. "I told A.B. that. "I'm not questioning your toughness. But when I coached DBs, Ronde came back the following week.'' Morris said Bryant's absence in the preseason will have more of an impact on the Bucs' quarterbacks than on Bryant. "I'm not sure if he loses it, I'm sure my quarterbacks do,'' Morris said. "There's nothing like going out there and throwing to Antonio Bryant. He's a big, strong guy that's going to make plays for you. Sometimes you throw a bad ball and he'll make you look good.
"He'll miss his part, obviously, his timing and rhythm. But he was here in the off-season a lot and did have a lot of work at that. He did have a lot of work at that in camp, so I'm feeling good about his timing and precision. He got a little of the physical game that day he stepped out there in the two minute (drill), he got a little helmet to helmet action, he got little hits on him. But I think it's better, I think it's smart to clean him up and let him get ready.''
Morris said Bryant did seek a second medical opinion about his knee but did not need much convincing before agreeing to the arthroscopic surgery, which is scheduled for . "There wasn't any persuasion required,'' Morris said. "Antonio, we all know he's an angry worker, so he just wanted to make sure it was right. You always get your second opinion like they should. If I was a $9-million player, I'd get a second opinion, too.''