TAMPA — Bucs right guard Davin Joseph was a wrecking ball against the Patriots on Sunday, his long dreadlocks flapping in his wake as he flattened everything in his path. He helped lead one of the most thorough offensive line performances seen in these parts in quite some time.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, it's an image they won't see again anytime soon.
Joseph, 24, had surgery Monday for a broken foot, an injury that likely will sideline the 2006 first-round pick for at least a month and possibly much longer.
The news comes at a time when the offensive line was beginning to jell with hopes high for a unit historically seen as a weakness for the franchise. It means Joseph probably will miss the season opener for the second time in three years. (A knee injury as a rookie cost him the first three games in 2006.)
Tuesday, the Bucs, who did not say if it was Joseph's right or left foot, were determining a timetable for his absence. But early indications place it from 4-8 weeks. Even a conservative estimate means Joseph would miss the first two regular-season games (at New Orleans and home against Atlanta).
Joseph's injury compounds an already troublesome situation. The Bucs could be missing as many as five starters when they host Jacksonville on Saturday in their third preseason game. Quarterback Jeff Garcia (calf), receiver Joey Galloway (groin), fullback B.J. Askew (foot) and defensive tackle Jovan Haye (groin) haven't played this preseason. Garcia, Galloway and Haye practiced on a limited basis Tuesday.
Joseph appeared to be hurt late in the first half while blocking for an extra point.
In his absence, rookie Jeremy Zuttah, a third-round pick, took first-team snaps in practice. Coaches have praised the 22-year-old from Rutgers as a quick study. Dan Buenning, in his fourth season, also is an option, but he mostly has been concentrating on center and could back up Jeff Faine.
Garcia hopes to play Saturday, but coach Jon Gruden will not proclaim his starter ready to go.
"I pretty much was able to do everything that I would expect myself to do in practice (Tuesday)," Garcia said. "I moved around a little bit, felt pretty comfortable. I really expect that this game I'll be ready to go."
A few minutes later, Gruden chimed in: "It's been about three weeks since he's explosively had to change direction, reset and throw the ball. He does play with a certain unique style that's hard to emulate. Until he does it, I can't really say. Hopefully in the next two days, we'll know."
Galloway made his first appearance in a team workout since the start of the summer but did not participate in full-speed drills even though the Bucs conducted a non-contact practice and wore no pads.
"He's got to know in his own mind he can run a 16-yard square-in (route) and then come back to the huddle and run down the field," Gruden said. "He's got to work himself through that on the practice field. I'm optimistic."
Gruden said Askew is unlikely to play.