Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.
How would the Bucs replace Dotson if he had an extended absence? Second-year pro Caleb Benenoch, potentially the top backup at both tackle spots, filled in Thursday night when Dotson was hurt after only 11 plays. Coach Dirk Koetter said his run blocking looked better than his pass protection -- he was flagged for one of four holding penalties against the Bucs offense.
"He's doing a nice job in the run game," Koetter said. "He's a little inconsistent in his pass pro right now. But we're really happy with how he's progressing in the run game."
Dotson could very well be fine, but if he had a longterm injury, another option would be to shift starting left guard Kevin Pamphile, who played tackle at the start of his time with the Bucs, to right tackle, with veteran Evan Smith stepping up at left guard.
"Both those things would be under consideration," Koetter said. "You have to have both those plans. ... Evan Smith has had a really nice camp. He's played more guard than center in this training camp, even though he's a center by trade. He's done a nice job the whole camp. That would probably be the first move, if we had to move Kevin out to tackle, then Evan Smith would go at left guard."
The Bucs are likely to keep nine offensive linemen on their 53-man roster, dressing seven as active players each Sunday. That's likely the starting five -- LT Donovan Smith, Pamphile, C Ali Marpet, RG J.R. Sweezy and Dotson -- as well as Evan Smith, Joe Hawley, Benenoch and T Leonard Wester, barring any surprises in final cuts.
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