TAMPA — Less than a year removed from a major knee injury, OT Kelvin Palmer is healthy and hoping to make the most of a late opportunity to join the Bucs in training camp.
Palmer, signed by the Bucs for depth on Aug. 8 as an injury replacement, didn't initially expect to be back this soon, after injuring his left knee in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game with the Steelers last season. He tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his knee, expecting to miss a full year after surgery in September and spending the season on injured reserve.
"It's a real blessing," Palmer, 23, preparing for joint practices with the Jaguars on Wednesday and Thursday in Jacksonville before the Bucs' preseason game Saturday night. "I'm feeling like I never was hurt. I was supposed to be out a full year but I busted my (butt)."
Undrafted out of Baylor, Palmer (6-4, 310) spent the 2014 season on the Cardinals' practice squad and was competing for a backup job with the Steelers when he injured his knee. After being cut by the Steelers this spring, he worked out for the Bucs, and while he's unlikely to make their 53-man roster, he still has practice-squad eligibility.
The Bucs have struggled with injuries on the offensive line, with guards J.R. Sweezy and Caleb Benenoch missing significant time, then tackle Caylin Hauptmann left the team just days after signing. Palmer got 13 snaps in the fourth quarter of Thursday's preseason opener, and with rookie Leonard Wester sidelined in practice since, he's been working as the Bucs' second-string left tackle.
"I stepped in, took advantage of the opportunity to get the extra reps and the extra work in," said Palmer, once a teammate of Robert Griffin III at Baylor. "I want to show the coaches that I'm here to play."
SNAP JUDGMENT: The Bucs' only long-snapper, Andrew DePaola, has been sidelined since Thursday's preseason opener with an undisclosed surgery, and while he's expected back this week, his absence gave the team a chance to work out LB Adarius Glanton as the team's emergency snapper.
"I've been doing it for a while, so I'm comfortable," said Glanton, who last snapped at Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland and was an emergency backup in college at FAU.
Glanton joined the Bucs late last season, playing in five games without any tackles, but he had 12 as a rookie with the Panthers in 2014. He's trying to hold off a deep group of rookie linebackers for a backup job, knowing special teams is a big part of a backup linebacker's value.
"I love playing teams anyway, so I like to go out there and try to make plays and help the team," Glanton said.
THIS AND THAT: This week's trip is the Bucs' shortest of the season, but they'll make three trips out west during the season, with games in San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona. In all, the Bucs will log 19,288 miles of travel during the season, ranking for 11th-most, according to the NFL. … Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said he consulted with Jaguars coach Gus Bradley on the ground rules for the teams' joint practices this week, in the schedule of practice periods and nature of what they'll work on. The Bucs will do the same in Tampa next week with two joint practices with the Browns.
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