TAMPA — Competition is challenging Reid Fragel — from newcomers, from teammates recovering from injury — but Monday night when the Bucs host the Bengals, he'll have an opportunity to show something as the Bucs' starting right tackle.
"It's a dream come true," said Fragel, who worked with the first team all last week with starter Demar Dotson out about six weeks with a knee injury and newly signed Gosder Cherilus getting adjusted after joining the team Monday.
"Any time you get to start in this league, no matter if it's preseason or not, it's an exciting time. I'm really looking forward to it, trying to stay calm until then and not get too excited too early."
Fragel was drafted by the Bengals in the seventh round in 2013 and was among their final cuts. He hasn't played in a regular-season game but has experience with two key Bucs coaches: offensive line coach George Warhop with the Browns in 2013 and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter with the Falcons last season.
Dotson's injury has opened up the competition for the fourth tackle spot to open the season. Fragel can help himself by playing well against Cincinnati's starters and said he has gained much from a week of working with the starting line.
"It's a chance to get a real, honest look with Evan (Smith) at center, kind of get used to the calls he makes, which makes things a little bit easier," said Fragel, who played three years at Ohio State as a 280-pound tight end before becoming a tackle his senior year in 2012. "It gives you a chance to build some confidence up in your game."
INJURY UPDATE: Two of the team's top defensive ends remain out with injuries — starter Jacquies Smith (shoulder) and backup T.J. Fatinikun (leg) — so the Bucs had tackles Henry Melton and Will Gholston working some outside in Saturday's practice. Veterans Larry English and Lawrence Sidbury are next in line at end.
The team has several other players unlikely to play Monday due to linger injuries, including S Chris Conte, LB Orie Lemon, C Josh Allen and DT Akeem Spence. Though T Kevin Pamphile dressed Saturday, he continues to be limited by a sore triceps.
S Keith Tandy was excused from practice to attend the funeral of his 17-year-old nephew, Jayvon Quarles, who was killed Aug. 13 in an accident on the football field at his high school in Kentucky.
THIS AND THAT: The team continues to occasionally use TE Luke Stocker as a fullback, the position he filled in at last season. … Bruce Carter continues to work as the second-string strongside linebacker, with Khaseem Greene working in the middle. … Newly signed Tony McDaniel and Gholston worked as the second-team defensive tackles, behind starters Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald.
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