TAMPA — Bucs coach Greg Schiano indicated the decision to make backup RT Demar Dotson the starter might not be permanent, saying he "gives us the best chance to win this week."
But the fact Dotson, 26, has (for now) supplanted longtime starter Jeremy Trueblood says a lot about how Schiano feels the relatively inexperienced fourth-year pro has developed.
Dotson started Sunday against the Giants, with Trueblood nursing an ankle injury, and Schiano liked what he saw enough to give him a nod again this week against the Cowboys.
"It's a cumulative body of work, like all decisions are," Schiano said. "He has an athleticism to protect in the pass game. He needs to improve in many ways, but we all do. I just think he gives us the best chance to win this week. It doesn't have anything to do with down the road or anything like that. It's just this week. This is what gives us the best chance."
Dotson is still relatively new to football, having first played as a senior at Southern Miss in 2008 before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Bucs. The former basketball player has come a long way, filling in for injured LT Donald Penn in the preseason and holding his own against premier pass rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck on Sunday in New York.
Dotson said he found out Tuesday night from his agent that he had moved up the depth chart. He appreciated the opportunity but acknowledged he has a long way to go.
"It was a lot of hard work, but the hard work doesn't stop; it's now starting," Dotson said. "I've got to continue to work at it every day. My effort doesn't change."
Trueblood, who has been the starter at right tackle for the most part since getting drafted in 2006, was unavailable for comment Wednesday. He's in the second year of a two-year contract, which the Bucs had him restructure for a $1 million reduction for 2012. Dotson said he was grateful to Trueblood for teaching him every day, and he'll continue to pick his brain.
"There's no bitterness," Dotson said.
MEDICAL MATTERS: WR/KR Sammie Stroughter is out with a right foot injury that Schiano acknowledged could be a long-term issue.
"You never know," Schiano said. "Someone is sore, and then all of a sudden, it's bigger than you think."
The team re-signed WR Jordan Shipley, who spent some time with Tampa Bay in the preseason before being one of the final cuts.
"I thought we were fortunate that Jordan was available, too," Schiano said, "because we felt comfortable with him when he was here, we really liked him, but it was just space, numbers."
Stroughter, a fourth-year player, did not practice Wednesday and was seen limping noticeably in the locker room. He declined to comment.
HIGH PRAISE: The Bucs, coming off a game in which they had to hold off one of the league's premier defensive fronts, won't get much of a break against Cowboys six-time Pro Bowl LB DeMarcus Ware, who leads the NFL with 93½ sacks since 2006.
"He's one of the best players in the league as far as just production and consistency," Schiano said. "He plays hard all the time, he's relentless, and he's got incredible pass-rush technique. He lines up everywhere, too."
MISCELLANY: LB Quincy Black did not practice due to a back injury. … DE Adrian Clayborn wasn't at practice to deal with a family matter, the team said. … Cowboys QB Tony Romo said he had "no opinion" on the Bucs' decision to attack on the final play Sunday when the Giants were trying to take a knee, but he said he'll be prepared for it.
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.