TAMPA — For the second straight day, the Bucs lost a significant player due to injury.
Wide receiver John Franklin III was carted out of the indoor facility Friday morning with an apparent left leg injury. Franklin was scheduled to have an MRI Friday afternoon, but Bucs coach Bruce Arians said, “it’s not looking very good.”
Franklin’s injury came a day after the Bucs likely lost running back T.J. Logan for the season with a right patellar tendon injury. He is expected to have surgery on Saturday and go on injured reserve.
Both Logan and Franklin were expected to be contributors in the return game. Logan, a favorite of Arians’ since his days in Arizona, was the team’s primary kickoff returner last season and began returning punts before a broken thumb ended his season in early December.
Franklin, a multifaceted athlete now playing receiver after previously playing cornerback and quarterback, was expected to compete for the kickoff return job, among other potential roles.
“He was a heck of a kickoff returner ‘til he got injured today,” Arians said.
Franklin emerged from wide receiver-on-defensive back drills hobbling off the field, unable to put weight on his left leg. He was helped to the ground by trainers before being carted off.
Rookies will likely compete at the return spots. Third-round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn could be worked into the mix at kickoff returner, and second-round pick Antoine Winfield Jr,. who returned three punts in college at Minnesota, is a punt return option. Seventh-round pick Raymond Calais owns a strong kickoff return resume from college at Louisiana.
Brady, others get day off
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady received a day off from practice on Friday, as did several other veteran players.
“It was an easy sell for Tom,” Arians said. “I think he was maybe kind of shocked that I approached him about it.”
Arians said the plan is to give the 43-year-old Brady days off much like he did with quarterback Carson Palmer in Arizona. Because the Bucs don’t practice Saturday, it gives the players two straight days off.
“It’s pretty predetermined,” Arians said. “They get double days and should be fresh as daisies on Sunday.”
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, inside linebacker Lavonte David and wide receiver Chris Godwin also received the day off Friday.
Quote of the Day
“He’s a cool guy to be a Michigan guy.”
— Bucs defensive end and William Gholston, on Tom Brady and his alma mater. Gholston played at Michigan’s in-state rival, Michigan State.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.