Bucs first-round pick Calijah Kancey returns to practice

Notes | The defensive lineman from Pittsburgh missed nearly all of training camp and three preseason games while nursing a calf injury.
Bucs defensive lineman Calijah Kancey is pictured during rookie minicamp in May at AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa.
Bucs defensive lineman Calijah Kancey is pictured during rookie minicamp in May at AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Sept. 7, 2023|Updated Sept. 7, 2023

TAMPA ― Defensive lineman Calijah Kancey returned to practice for the first time in 39 days Thursday and could play in Sunday’s regular-season opener at Minnesota.

The Bucs’ first-round pick from Pittsburgh suffered a calf strain in practice July 30 and had not worked out with the team since.

Head coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday that they were hopeful Kancey could play against the Vikings.

“He still has a chance to play,’' Bowles said. “We’re not ruling him out.”

Kancey could be a game-wrecker for the Bucs. At 6-feet-1, 280 pounds, he is smaller and quicker than the defensive tackles that have lined up next to Vita Vea over the past few seasons, such as Akiem Hicks and Ndamukong Suh. Those players each weighed more than 325 pounds.

Kancey features more speed than power in his game. But it will be interesting to see what kind of stamina he has if he plays.

Vaughn back at practice

Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn returned to practice Thursday following an unexcused absence on Wednesday.

Vaughn began training camp as the Bucs’ No. 2 back behind starter Rachaad White. However, he is now fourth on the depth chart behind White, rookie Sean Tucker and Chase Edmonds.

Tucker missed Syracuse’s pro day and other pre-draft workouts and went undrafted after a medical issue (reported to be a heart condition) red-flagged him at the NFL combine. But he was medically cleared as the Bucs opened training camp and returned to the field.

“It seemed like a lot, not being able to play football for a little bit,” Tucker said. “Sitting on the sideline watching everybody play when you’re not physically hurt.”

Asked what impressed him about Tucker, Bowles said he liked his production.

“Just his work ethic. He is a very talented guy,” Bowles said. “I mean, he earned it. We didn’t give it to him. You sat there and saw the same preseason we saw. We go by production around here, and Sean came back and came to camp with a purpose. He practiced like that, and he played in preseason like that. He has continued to play like that, and he has earned it.”

This story will be updated

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