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Dotson hopeful to return healthy in six weeks

Bucs tackle Demar Dotson was a visitor at practice Thursday morning for the first time since he injured his knee in Saturday's preseason opener, thankful the injury wasn't more severe and hopeful of returning healthy in about six weeks.

"It's not an ACL tear, and that's good news. I was afraid of that," said Dotson, walking on crutches and watching practice from the sidelines. "A lot of people were praying and you appreciate everybody's prayers. Hopefully I'll get a chance to come back out here within six weeks or so. That's the plan. We're going to rehab it like crazy so I can get a chance to come back out here and finish this season."

Dotson, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the second quarter Saturday, said he's just beginning the rehab process, unable to put much pressure on the knee, so he's been limited to ice treatments and some leg lifts. He'll begin walking in a pool next week -- six weeks from now is Oct. 1, potentially missing only the first three or four games of the season.

Dotson isn't likely to go on the "injured reserve- designated for return" list, because that would keep him from playing in the first eight games of the season, so the Bucs will have to carry him on the initial 53-man roster, carrying an extra lineman as a result.

The Bucs this week signed former Colts starter Gosder Cherilus, who is likely to open the season as the Bucs' starting right tackle; Dotson would then compete with Cherilus once healthy, giving the team depth at the position with rookie Donovan Smith likely to start at left tackle.