Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Injuries test depth of Bucs offensive line

Bucs tackle Donovan Smith missed a few days last week with the flu.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Bucs tackle Donovan Smith missed a few days last week with the flu.

TAMPA — Ali Marpet goose stepped his way to the practice field Wednesday, the result of a clunky walking boot on his sprained right ankle.

J.R. Sweezy, recovering from surgery on his herniated disc, isn't in the doghouse but almost certainly headed to the physically unable to perform list, seemingly destined to miss the first five games of the regular season.

Evan Smith interrupted his battle with Joe Hawley at center to fill in for Marpet at right guard.

Kevin Pamphile, the Swiss Army knife of the group, continued to plug the hole at left guard left by the retirement of Logan Mankins. Last week, Pamphile played left tackle when Donovan Smith missed a few days with the flu.

For an offensive line that is considered the strength of the team, the Bucs blockers have spent much more time this preseason dealing with disappointment than celebrating success.

After the preseason opener at Philadelphia, Marpet gave an honor scout assessment.

"I think we can play so much better," Marpet said. "I don't know why we didn't perform how we could, but we just didn't. We didn't have that energy, we didn't have those details, we didn't have all that; it didn't click for us."

It didn't click in the first practice at Jacksonville or the first quarter against the Jaguars. It didn't click on Tuesday during a joint practice with the Browns, when coach Dirk Koetter said, "No juice. No juice. No one wanted to practice.''

He walked it back Wednesday after watching the film, saying he overreacted.

If nothing else, Koetter should feel fortunate the Bucs have as much depth in front of quarterback Jameis Winston as almost any team. Koetter declined comment on the severity of the injury to Marpet, who last season joined Smith as an All Rookie performer. They helped create holes for running back Doug Martin, the league's second-leading rusher with 1,402 yards and six touchdowns.

"Just the game has slowed down," Marpet said. "When you have more anticipation you can play faster and because of that I'm able to play faster."

When starting right tackle Demar Dotson suffered torn ligaments in his knee in Week 2 of the preseason last year, the Bucs were fortunate to sign veteran free agent Gosder Cherilus. When Evan Smith rolled his ankle the second week of the regular season at New Orleans, Hawley was in the fold as a free agent from the Falcons.

"Depth at any position is huge," Marpet said. "But to have that and have experience throughout the offensive line, it's invaluable."

That depth is being tested at a time when the Bucs would prefer continuity. For all the good things the Bucs behemoths did a year ago, protecting the quarterback wasn't one of them.

Winston was sacked 27 times, which tied for 19th in the NFL. But he absorbed 109 hits, fourth-most in the league. And that was better from 124 in 2014.

"It just starts with the offensive line," Winston said, praising the hard work that offensive line coach George Warhop puts the linemen through. "You've got to give all the credit to those guys."

There were positive signs last week at Jacksonville. After being held to 31 yards rushing at Philadelphia, the Bucs had 158 yards on the ground. "The run game is huge," Hawley said. "When you get 150 yards in the NFL, that's big. I think all three groups were doing a really good job running the ball. We need to continue to improve on it.

"Third week is the dress rehearsal, it's the final big push before the regular season, so we've got to come in and prepare like it's a regular season game, install like it's a regular-season game. I think the O-line, we're getting better every day and (in) football you're either coming in getting better or getting worse each day. We're just going to continue to try and get better each day and work well together."

Injuries test depth of Bucs offensive line

08/24/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 10:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.