Newly acquired right guard Jason Whittle became the first victim Friday when he suffered a broken right fibula during 11-on-11 drills. After he suffered the injury, Whittle hit the ground and pounded his fist into the grass, screamed and then took off his helmet and threw it across the practice field in apparent disgust. Whittle, who was starting in place of Cosey Coleman at right guard, was helped off the field and onto a cart by defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebackers Shelton Quarles and Derrick Brooks and team trainers.
The injury occurred just moments after Whittle came to blows with defensive tackle Chartric Darby in 7-on-7 drills. That scuffle didn't last long. Whittle's leg injury, however, will last at least one month.
"It was a freak accident," said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. "He was just pulling and stumbled awkwardly. It was just a freak play. He didn't get stepped on. He just turned and landed awkwardly as he was running. It was one of those freak players."
Ironically, it was Coleman who suffered a freak leg sprain during warm-ups before the start of one of Tampa Bay's preseason contests last year.
"It's unfortunate any time a guy goes down like that," said Bucs right tackle Kenyatta Walker. "You never want to see a guy go down like that just getting in here. It was very unfortunate that that happened, but Cosey was right beside me the whole year so it's not like we're missing a beat."
Despite the fact that Whittle just signed a five-year deal with Bucs last month, Gruden said he doesn't feel Whittle will be left far behind.
"He's a veteran player," said Gruden. "He's a quick study. He's learned our stuff rapidly. We have a very competitive situation. We drafted three young linemen, and we'll get a chance to prove their versatility. We'll see what happens."