PLANT CITY — Tampa Bay Vipers wide receiver Antonio Callaway, the former Gators standout trying for a second shot at a pro football career in the new XFL, was carted off the field during Wednesday’s practice after sustaining a lower leg injury.
“The doctors haven’t looked at him yet, so we’re going to hold off on any injury report,” Vipers coach Marc Trestman said following practice.
The 23-year-old Callaway, whose dynamic play-making ability at Florida was overshadowed by off-field transgressions, was claimed off waivers by the Vipers two weeks ago.
He already had a late start on other players as the team’s season opener approaches Feb. 9, and now missing any extended time due to injury could make his availability for the season opener questionable.
At Florida, Callaway didn’t play at all during his junior season after he was suspended twice, first for a sexual assault accusation that he was later cleared of, then for his role in the Gators’ credit card fraud scandal. He was also cited for marijuana possession.
While Callaway remained a pro prospect, his troubles dropped his draft stock and he wasn’t taken until the fourth round by the Browns. His stay in Cleveland wouldn’t last two seasons as the Browns cut ties in November after Callaway was late to meetings and practices, and faced a second drug suspension over a three-month span.
The Vipers vetted Callaway and determined he deserved another opportunity at a pro football future.
“I think everybody knows he’s a talented guy as a returner, as a receiver,” Trestman said. “He come in here humble, focused. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, and we’re hopeful he’s going to be healthy and have a chance to move forward and get his time in.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.