TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Thursday. Starting RT Demar Dotson has been cleared from concussion protocol and can play Sunday against the Panthers in the regular-season finale.
"I'm just glad to be back," said Dotson, who has missed the past three games. "I'm just glad to be back here with the guys, with an opportunity to get back out here and play."
The Bucs used backup Gosder Cherilus for the first two games Dotson missed. Cherilus was beaten on two key sacks late in the Bucs' Dec. 18 loss at Dallas, in which he suffered a groin injury that sidelined him Saturday against the Saints. Without Dotson and Cherilus, the Bucs shifted LG Kevin Pamphile to right tackle, with Evan Smith stepping in at left guard. Dotson's return will allow Pamphile to return to left guard.
HEALTH FIRST: Speaking for the first time since it was announced Wednesday that RB Doug Martin has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, coach Dirk Koetter said his only concern is for Martin's health moving forward.
"I don't think any of us can understand what he's going through unless you've been in his shoes," Koetter said. "The only thing I really want to say about the Doug Martin situation is that I think it's a positive thing that he's taken steps to put himself in position to have better health and have a better life long term."
Koetter declined to go into detail about when Martin and the Bucs learned of the suspension, Martin's decision not to appeal it and the Bucs' decision to make him inactive against the Saints.
"I'll leave that to your imagination," Koetter said.
LB Kwon Alexander, who was suspended for the final four games last season for taking a performance-enhancing drug — he said he took an energy drink that contained a banned substance — said he and his teammates have nothing but support for Martin.
"I'm praying for him. The whole team's praying for him," Alexander said.
THIS AND THAT: Rookie CB Vernon Hargreaves, who has started every game, was added to the injury report, which showed him with limited participation due to an abdominal injury. … DE Will Gholston has not practiced this week due to an elbow injury suffered two weeks ago and was not expected to play Sunday. … DE Channing Ward was promoted from the practice squad to take Martin's place on the roster, and OL Kyler Kerbyson was re-signed to the open spot on the practice squad.