TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.
Dotson said he suffered the injury in practice Tuesday and came out after 11 snaps in Thursday's preseason win at Jacksonville. Dotson was relieved to have only a low-grade sprain and should be able to return healthy for the season opener in three weeks at Miami.
"It's not too bad," Dotson said. "It was more a precautionary thing to get it tested out. I had the same one last year in the preseason and missed a few days. It's just the wear and tear of training camp, but we know the protocol to get it back."
The Bucs have limited proven depth at tackle, so keeping Dotson healthy is a major plus entering the season. The Bucs will likely have two second-year players as their backup tackles, Caleb Benenoch and Leonard Wester, and could use starting LG Kevin Pamphile there if necessary. Benenoch was also sidelined with a minor injury Sunday, so Wester took reps as the first-string right tackle.
Three for one
The Bucs' top four receivers are etched in granite: Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries and rookie Chris Godwin.
But the drive for No. 5 has turned into quite a competition. In Thursday's win at Jacksonville, Bernard Reedy stood out with a 29-yard kickoff return and two receptions for 16 yards. In Sunday's practice, it was Josh Huff's turn, as the former Eagles kick returner/receiver had a good day catching.
Freddie Martino stepped into a big role late last season and finished with eight catches for 142 yards, including a touchdown in a win over the Bears.
So what will determine who gets the fifth spot? Special teams or the ability to play receiver?
"We got to just have the best players,'' coach Dirk Koetter said. "The fifth receiver, they've got to be able to play special teams but they also got to be able to go in and play all three spots.
"(Huff) had a really nice day. Josh Huff and Freddie both, and Reedy. Again, those three guys have been the most consistent.''
Huff, who was released by the Eagles after an arrest, joined the Bucs in the middle of last season. He spent a month on the practice squad before being promoted and playing in the final three games, totaling three catches for 41 yards and six kickoff returns for 72 yards.
With a DUI citation in New Jersey dismissed, Huff said he was focused all offseason on learning the offense.
"You see everybody out here putting in the extra work just to try and better this team, and if we can't make this team, obviously we'll hope to make another team and make that team better,'' Huff said.
"I'm way more comfortable than I was back in November when I came. A lot of things (were) going on when I came, but that's all behind me now, and I had all of the offseason and the spring to get better.''
Stay updated on the Buccaneers
Subscribe to our free Bucs RedZone newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Special Olympics visit
The Bucs hosted more than 50 athletes from Special Olympics Florida, and the athletes did drills with QB Jameis Winston and several other Bucs after practice. Winston hosted many of the athletes at his football camp at One Bucs Place this summer.
"Getting to see familiar faces was awesome,'' Winston said. "It's amazing what the Bucs do with Special Olympics every year, get those athletes to come out here and play and have fun. You can see pure joy on their faces, and I just love it. It brings a smile to my face.''
The Bucs signed CB Mariel Cooper. To make room for him, they waived RB Quayvon Hicks. Cooper (5 feet 11, 192 pounds) entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Washington last season before being waived at the end of the preseason.