Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting left tackle Donald Penn to miss several weeks with strained calf

“We have a minimum standard. And if it’s not met, then there are consequences,” Greg Schiano says of his conditioning test.
“We have a minimum standard. And if it’s not met, then there are consequences,” Greg Schiano says of his conditioning test.
Published July 27, 2012

TAMPA — The Bucs suffered their first concerning injury even before taking their first snap.

Earlier this week, starting LT Donald Penn told the team he strained his calf while working out at home in California.

Thursday, coach Greg Schiano said he couldn't be specific about how long Penn will be out but it will be weeks rather than days.

"We'll play it by ear," he said.

Penn has started every game over the past four seasons. His likely backup, Demar Dotson, has not started a game at tackle over his previous three seasons.

Huffing and puffing: Penn probably won't be the only player missing.

Schiano said several players failed the conditioning test Thursday. Players must run 16 110-yard sprints with 45 seconds of rest in between. Schiano declined to name who failed but indicated some won't be allowed to practice until they reach a certain conditioning level.

"We have a minimum standard," Schiano said. "And if it's not met, then there are consequences."

Schiano is expected to conduct a rigorous training camp.

"I think you play your way into football shape once you get to training camp," he said. "But you have to have a base level of cardiovascular conditioning to be able to play your way into football shape."

The conditioning test is a fundamental belief for the first-year coach, who is trying to set a tone this season for how he'll do things in the future.

"There will be a day when we show up here and on the first day and everybody passes," Schiano said. "I wanted it to happen (Thursday). We'll get there. There's no panic. We'll get our guys into shape.

"But that makes training camp harder on those guys. There are additional things they have to do. There are conditioning things they have to do. And training camp's hard enough."

Quotable: So how tough are 16 110-yard runs? See for yourself, CB Ronde Barber said: "I challenge anybody in (the media room) to go out and try it."

UP FOR GRABS: The defense isn't a finished product, especially after Thursday's trade of DT Brian Price.

Coordinator Bill Sheridan said the linebackers lineup isn't a done deal, either.

"I wouldn't say we've got all 11 positions locked down, especially in some of the linebacker positions," he said. "And those players know those positions are up for grabs.

"But I'm excited about it, and it's a real healthy competition. It's not like we're lacking for talent. Those guys have been told that those jobs are open and are being competed for during the preseason."

Though everything is subject to change, the Bucs have, for most of the offseason, used Lavonte David and Quincy Black as outside linebackers with Mason Foster manning the middle.

It's not clear what, if anything could change at linebacker.

Coaches have raved about David, a second-round pick out of Nebraska, while Foster, entering his second season, appears to be the best option in the middle. Black, entering his sixth season, could have competition, however.

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter

We’ll send you news and analysis on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays and Florida’s college football teams every day.

You’re all signed up!

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

Explore all your options

MORE SHERIDAN: Sheridan said he sees the Bucs taking advantage of DT Gerald McCoy's athletic traits.

"He's got a ton of talent, and he's got great athletic ability and movement," Sheridan said of McCoy, who has missed 13 games over his two seasons because of biceps injuries.

"I think the defense that, with Greg, we've put together, (McCoy) is going to have a chance to highlight a lot of that. He's going to have a chance to do a lot of moving and stunting, and I think he's going to really have a dynamic year."