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Bucs expect Donovan Smith in camp but will prepare for his absence

The starting left tackle expressed concerns about playing through the coronavirus pandemic earlier this month.

TAMPA — The Bucs expect left tackle Donovan Smith, who expressed concern about playing this season amid the coronavirus pandemic, to report to training camp on time. But they also have contingency plans if he doesn’t.

Bucs coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday on a conference call that he hadn’t spoken with Smith but expects him in camp.

“Obviously, it’s a personal choice for guys to do this, and I respect their choice,” Arians said.

In a social media post earlier this month, Smith said that the many unknowns involving the pandemic “do not give me comfort. Risking my health as well as my family’s health do not seem like a risk worth taking.

“How can a sport that requires physical contact on every snap and transferral of all types of bodily fluid ON EVERY PLAY practice safe social distancing? How can I make sure I don’t bring COVID-19 back to my household? Yes, we get tested every day, but if it takes 24 hours to get my results, how can I know each day that I’m not spreading the virus or contracting it?”

If Smith — who has missed just one game over his five-year NFL career — is absent, Arians said that first-round pick Tristan Wirfs, as well veteran swingman Joe Haeg or Brad Seaton, who has yet to play in a regular season game, could see time.

Wirfs, the 13th overall pick out of Iowa, is slated to open the season as the Bucs’ starting right tackle. While he played both tackle spots in college, moving him to the left side to protect Tom Brady’s blind side would be an added challenge.

“Yeah, we’d work out a bunch of guys,” Arians said. “Joe Haeg played over there. Tristan could play over there. Brad Seaton. We got some guys that if he decided not to play, we’ll be ready to go.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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