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Tampa Bay Buccaneers C Jeff Faine to miss 'significant amount of time' with injured leg

TAMPA — For the second straight season, Bucs center Jeff Faine will miss "a significant amount of time," coach Raheem Morris said Monday.

Faine aggravated a quadriceps injury during the second quarter of Sunday's 24-21 win at Cincinnati and did not finish the game. He was replaced at center by guard Jeremy Zuttah.

Faine had further evaluation Monday, but Morris said he didn't want to predict how many games the 29-year-old veteran would miss. Last season, Faine missed four games after tearing his triceps muscle in a season-opening loss to Dallas.

"Jeff Faine, we can expect to miss a few weeks here," Morris said.

It's a big loss for the Bucs, who dropped all four games without Faine last season. A year ago, he was replaced by Sean Mahan, who was released shortly after Faine returned to the lineup and is no longer in the NFL.

The remarkable thing about the Bucs losing Faine on Sunday is that they were able to handle the Bengals' dizzying array of blitzes. What made the job easier for Zuttah is that quarterback Josh Freeman helped make most of the protection adjustments. A year ago with Freeman as a rookie, that would not have been the case.

"I think part of it is his growth process, more than anything," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "We're seeing it. We sat down last year and said the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens are all on our schedule — their blitz packages are four of the best in the NFL.

"We had a new center in there with Zuttah, and that put a lot on Zuttah's shoulders coming in. But when you've got a quarterback who can handle a lot of those adjustments, that helps."

Zuttah started 16 games last season at left guard before losing his job to Carolina free agent Keydrick Vincent in training camp. But his versatility makes him one of the Bucs' most valuable offensive linemen.

Morris said the Bucs will consider Ted Larsen, the former Palm Harbor University High and North Carolina State star who signed with the Bucs after being cut by New England.

"Zuttah came out and helped us out," Morris said. "It was a redemption game for a lot of people. It was a chance to get (safety) Sabby (Piscitelli) back. It was a chance to get Zuttah back. Zuttah was another guy that lost his position in the beginning of the season. He was able to go out there and fight through things, which we talked about (Sunday) night. He jumped right out there at center and ran our offense and won a football game for us, so we are really excited about his production and how he was able to go out there. We have a young man on the team named Larsen; he'll have an opportunity to get a helmet on. He'll have an opportunity to compete. It'll be a lot of fun to go out there and practice this week with these young guys."

Morris said the Bucs don't expect any other players injured in Cincinnati to miss playing time. Safety Sean Jones left the game after the first play with back spasms, and defensive tackle Brian Price missed some plays after suffering a leg injury.

Jones was replaced by Piscitelli, who had seven tackles and arguably the biggest play of the game when he intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter to set up the winning field goal by Connor Barth.

Piscitelli wasn't the only player who had a measure of redemption. Rookie safety Cody Grimm, who gave up a long touchdown in his first NFL start two weeks ago, returned an interception for a touchdown against the Bengals.

"I can't be more happy for Cody and Sabby," Jones said. "They went out there and did a great job. They stepped up and made big plays for us.

"Ultimately, they won the game for us with those big plays."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers C Jeff Faine to miss 'significant amount of time' with injured leg 10/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 8:09am]
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