TAMPA — After fans winced watching Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston take five sacks in the first half of Friday’s third preseason game, they saw Tampa Bay possibly lose its No. 2 quarterback before the regular season starts.
Veteran Blaine Gabbert left Friday’s 13-12 victory over the Cleveland Browns early in the third quarter with a left shoulder injury and did not return.
On the play, Gabbert scrambled up the middle and hit the ground hard, rolled onto his left shoulder and immediately motioned for team trainers with his right arm.
“First time it (became) subluxed," Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. "So it was hurting pretty good. It’s like I told him, ‘Good thing it’s not your throwing shoulder, so you’ll be all right.’’’
Gabbert left the field holding his left shoulder, and had the arm in a sling after the game.
The Bucs signed Gabbert to provide a veteran who knows new head coach Bruce Arians’ system. The 29-year-old Gabbert started five games for Arians’ Arizona Cardinals in 2017.
The injury puts the Bucs in a precarious situation if Gabbert misses extended time.
Third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin has played well this preseason, throwing for 652 yards with a 100.4 quarterback rating in three preseasons games. But despite a career full of strong preseason numbers, Griffin has never taken a regular-season NFL snap.
Arians said he has complete confidence in a Griffin as the team’s No. 2 quarterback
“More than comfortable," Arians said. "He’s proven with some of the guys he’s playing with, directing them, poise. He’s moved our team up and down the field, just like he did again tonight.''
Even if the Bucs have total faith in Griffin becoming their backup, they certainly won’t want him to play much and risk injury in the final preseason game on Thursday in Dallas.
After Friday’s game, Arians said he talked with general manager Jason Licht about signing another quarterback before Thursday’s game.
Bucannon also injured
Inside linebacker Deone Bucannon left Friday’s game with a knee injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.
The Bucs were already thin at inside linebacker. Bucannon was filling in for starter Lavonte David, who is out after arthroscopic knee surgery. Inside linebacker Devonte Bond, who had been shifted to outside linebacker to help with the injuries there, missed practice all week and didn’t play Friday.
In the second half, Jack Cichy played inside linebacker alongside Kevin Minter.
After the game, Bucannon said the injury was minor.
The Bucs’ lack of depth at outside linebacker was evident Friday in the fact that Noah Spence and Shaq Barrett were still playing in the fourth quarter.
Safety Kentrell Brice also left Friday’s game with a shoulder injury and tight end Antony Auclair was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a calf injury.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.