NT Cannida Out 4-6 Weeks; CB Smith Out 2-3 Weeks

September 1 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost more than a game to the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night. Three Pewter Pirates - nose tackle James Cannida, rookie corner Dwight Smith and reserve guard Kendall Mack - suffered major injuries that will sideline them for some time.

Tampa Bay suffered more than an embarrassing loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night by a score of 36-7. The Buccaneers also lost two valuable players, and a player battling for a roster spot to injury.

Reserve nose tackle James Cannida suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the fourth quarter and will be lost 4-6 weeks.

Rookie cornerback Dwight Smith, the team's third-round draft pick, suffered a foot sprain against the Falcons and is expected to be out 2-3 weeks.

Offensive guard Kendall Mack, who was trying to win a spot on the Bucs' 53-man roster, tore his triceps muscle in his left arm and will likely be placed on injured reserve or waived with an injury settlement depending on how much the Bucs coaching and personnel staffs liked his play.

This comes as bad news for the Bucs, whose only major injury during the four preseason games was starting center Jeff Christy's sprained MCL against Cleveland. Christy's injury will keep him out of the season opener at Dallas and possibly the Bucs' second game, which is the home opener against Philadelphia. This will likely force Tampa Bay to keep center Leon Hires as a backup to Todd Washington, who will start next week at Dallas. Normally, the Bucs would only keep two centers on the roster.

Now the Bucs will be faced with some tough decisions on the eve of the final roster cuts at nose tackle, cornerback and guard. Anthony McFarland is the starter at the nose position, but Cannida was the only backup with any playing experience. Rookie Terry Jolly played nose tackle in the preseason, but hasn't been impressive and will likely be one of those cut on Sunday, leaving the Bucs in a bind.

"We really don't have anyone else now to play the nose, other than Anthony (McFarland)," Dungy said. "So we're either going to have to train someone here, which would be probably Chuck Darby or Ellis Wyms or look at bringing somebody else in."

Both Darby and Wyms have only spent time at the under tackle position behind Warren Sapp. Bringing in another tackle would be difficult considering that player would have to take time learning the Bucs' one-gap scheme and line calls.

At cornerback, first-year player Corey Ivy has made an impression with his sure-tackling ability on defense and special teams, and was likely headed for the Bucs' 53-man roster as a fifth cornerback. That scenario became even more likely due to Smith's injury, unless there is a more attractive option who becomes available from another team during roster cutdowns.

The Bucs were not too pleased with the performance of their reserve guards - Mack, Wilbert Brown and Russ Hochstein - during the preseason. Mack and Brown struggled with inconsistency and Hochstein was sidelined with a broken hand and a broken foot. With the injuries to Mack and Hochstein, the Bucs may keep Brown by default. Brown is the most athletic of the trio, has had his positive moments and saw most of his action backing up Randall McDaniel at left guard. He can also play center in a pinch.

The Bucs have until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday to trim their roster down to 53 players. Tampa Bay may establish a five-man practice squad on Monday after 4:00 p.m.

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