TAMPA ― Bucs guard Cody Mauch bears a striking resemblance to center Ryan Jensen with his long, flowing red hair.
Lately, the comparisons don’t end there.
Jensen is out for the season with a knee injury. On Friday, Mauch also had to watch practice due to back spasms, coach Todd Bowles said. He will be a game-time decision in the opener Sunday at Minnesota.
“He’s got spasms right now, so we’ll see how he feels on Sunday,” Bowles said. “I don’t know how that’s going to be.
“It didn’t happen playing football. He bent over in his stance, and he went down.”
Mauch, the Bucs’ starting right guard, was added to the team’s injury report on Thursday. If the rookie from North Dakota State is unable to play, the team will most likely turn to guard/center Nick Leverett, Bowles said.
It would be a tough break for the Bucs, who hoped to get all five starting offensive linemen on the field together to at least start the season.
Tampa Bay already has moved Pro Bowl right tackle Tristan Wirfs to the left side. It signed veteran free agent Matt Feiler to play left gaurd. The season-ending injury to Jensen puts Robert Hainsey back at center. Luke Goedeke moved from left guard to right tackle.
But Week 1 of the NFL season is not when you want to have players getting injured.
Conditioning could be issue for Kancey
Defensive tackle Caljah Kancey, who suffered a calf injury early in training camp, practiced for the second consecutive day on Friday.
“He practiced (Friday) full for the first time,” Bowles said. “It’s one practice. It will be a game-time decision as well.”
Conditioning could be an issue since Kancey, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick (19th overall), has had no real contact since his days at Pittsburgh.
“Nothing replaces football practice,” Bowles said. “He’s had one day of football practice. He’s been conditioning, but football conditioning comes from playing.”
If Kancey can go, Bowles said, he would be with the starting defense.
“You want your first-team guys to be every-down players,” the coach said. “It never gets easier when you take out one of your starters. It’s not easy, depending on the injury and what the game plan is and how they recover. You can’t make that decision today. You’ve got to wait until Sunday.”
Outside linebacker Anthony Nelson has been limited with a hamstring injury and will be a game-time decision as well, Bowles said.
Vaughn back in the fold
Running back Ke’shawn Vaughn, who had an unexcused absence on Wednesday, left the Bucs’ facility over his dissatisfaction of being fourth on the Bucs’ depth chart, Bowles confirmed.
However, Bowles said, Vaughn has put those problems behind him and is ready to move forward.
“He’s come back,” Bowles said. “I’m sure he’s dissatisfied. I’d be pissed off if somebody demoted me. I probably wouldn’t leave the building. But he’s over it, and we’ve moved on from it.”
Skol chant in practice
Rain chased the Bucs into their indoor practice facility, but it enabled them to work with some crowd noise. Specifically, hey piped in some Skol chants, made famous by Vikings fans at U.S. Bank Stadium.
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“What do you want me to say?” Bowles said, laughing. ”Noise is noise. Baby noise, crowd noise, car noise, it’s noise. It’s loud. I don’t worry about whether it’s terrifying. Whether it’s happy cheers or sad cheers, we play ball.”
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