TAMPA — Bucs inside linebacker Lavonte David had arthroscopic surgery to repair a minor meniscus tear in his left knee on Sunday, coach Bruce Arians said following Monday’s training camp practice.
While Arians called the procedure “nothing serious” and predicted David would be ready for the beginning of the season, it does put David’s availability for the Bucs’ regular-season opener on Sept. 8 against the San Francisco 49ers into question.
Don’t expect David to see much playing time — if any — in preseason games. The typical recovery time from that type of surgery is about four weeks to six weeks.
“We’re going to hold him out for a while,” Arians said. "[We] fixed it up [Sunday], so he’ll be ready to go soon.”
David missed his third straight practice on Monday, and for the first time wasn't on the practice field, fueling speculation that the knee swelling that kept him on the sideline for the previous two practices was a bigger issue.
David missed two games last season with a MCL sprain in his right knee.
If David doesn’t play this preseason, his absence leaves a major void in veteran leadership on a Buccaneers defense that is without sack leader Jason Pierre-Paul with a neck injury until at least October and parted ways with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in the offseason and saw the free-agent departure of outside linebacker Kwon Alexander.
Newcomer Deone Bucannon figures to fill David’s spot in the that role and was taking first-team reps in Monday’s practice. Veteran Kevin Minter could also help fill that role in David’s absence.
“Deone stepped in for right now," Arians said. “We’ve got about four or five guys. There is really good competition at the inside linebacker position. All of those guys are position flexible, but Deone has jumped in first.”
The injury also will accelerate first-round pick Devin White’s learning curve, who shares starting inside linebacker duties with David.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.