Advertisement

Injuries hurting Bucs at defensive end

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (16) runs for a gain of 8 yards while tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Larry English (57) in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday, August 29, 2015. (OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (16) runs for a gain of 8 yards while tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Larry English (57) in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday, August 29, 2015. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published Sept. 5, 2015

TAMPA — As DE Larry English was carted off the field at Sun Life Stadium with a "significant"' knee injury in Thursday's 22-17 preseason-finale win over the Dolphins, the wheels started turning in the head of Bucs coach Lovie Smith. He knew the team would need to scour the waiver wire for defensive ends.

Injuries are part of the game, but they're worse for a team if it has an outbreak at one position. Starting right DE Jacquies Smith has been sidelined with a shoulder injury and played only 13 snaps in the preseason. Adding to the Bucs' woes Thursday, T.J. Fatinikun suffered a shoulder injury.

"Yes, it is concerning. It's reality to us," Smith said. "Some years you have certain positions that are hit a little bit more with injuries. We have especially, of course, at the defensive end position. Hopefully we can get a few guys back soon. We feel like that will be the case."

Fortunately for the Bucs, they have the first waiver claim until Week 3 of the regular season, meaning they can add any player who is released who is not a vested veteran (one with fewer than four years of service).

"For us, that is why this weekend is so important when you have injuries like that," Smith said. "We are first up. We are the first batter. We just have to be ready."

TANDY IS DANDY: S Keith Tandy didn't need the threat of looming roster cuts to remind him that Thursday could have been his last game.

He learned that well exactly three weeks earlier, when his 17-year-old nephew, Jayvon Charles, was killed on his Kentucky high school football field in an accident as he was moving equipment and was struck in the head.

"I know somebody up there is watching me," Tandy said after he intercepted two passes in the final two minutes — one in the end zone — to seal the Bucs' win. "You get out there, you get away for a little bit. Sometimes I catch myself still thinking about him. He makes you realize how quick you can be gone. It makes you cherish every moment. I was tired, but I was like, 'I could be at home right now.' "

Tandy also recovered a fumble off a muffed punt return, setting up the Bucs' first touchdown, and had three tackles on special teams. He said the defense, with four interceptions, was inspired to make the most of its final opportunity before cuts.

"Before the game, (defensive coordinator Leslie) Frazier was talking to the defense, and he was like 'Make us make a tough decision. You're not just playing for us. You're playing for the other 31 teams. Whatever you put on that film, that's your last, most important resume,' " Tandy said. "That's what I was trying to do."

O-line confident: The Bucs sat out Thursday what will likely be their starting offensive line: LT Donovan Smith, LG Logan Mankins, C Evan Smith, RG Ali Marpet and RT Gosder Cherilus.

"We feel good about it," Lovie Smith said. "When we say good about it, you look at the whole body of work. I've seen the line, I've seen young players take their first snap, seen them get better and better. I've seen them put in situations that will help them play better football during the course of the year — some positive, some negative. We have a very good game on record where we saw what we could be. Now it's about taking the next step."

Stay updated on the Buccaneers

Stay updated on the Buccaneers

Subscribe to our free Bucs RedZone newsletter

We’ll deliver a roundup of news and commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.