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  1. Bucs

Demar Dotson's knee injury a 'sprain,' Smith says

The injury to Bucs starting right tackle Demar Dotson has initially been diagnosed as only a sprain of his left knee, coach Lovie Smith said Sunday, suggesting the team's most tenured player will have a chance to play this season.

"He will be out for a period of time. We're in the evaluation process still with him," said Smith, making it clear "he won't play this week," but reiterating the injury is believed to be a sprain and not any kind of tear.

Fans had feared the worst when Dotson had to be helped off the field after he planted his left leg awkwardly while blocking late in the second quarter of Saturday's season opener. Smith declined to give specifics of an MRI exam that was scheduled for Sunday, but Dotson would initially have a timetable of eight weeks to make a healthy return, which would sideline him for about the first five games of the season.

Asked how Smith will handle right tackle in Dotson's absence, the first name he mentioned was second-year pro Kevin Pamphile, who started at left tackle Saturday and is competing with rookie second-rounder Donovan Smith there. Another option is Patrick Omameh, who started every game at right guard last year but was moved to right tackle this spring.

"We'll look at all the tackles on our roster," coach Smith said. "When we have an injury, it's time for other guys to step up. That's what we'll do and see what the best combination will be right away."

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