There's no sense in crying over spilled milk, as the old saying goes, which is why the Buccaneers aren't trying to figure out why or how starting right guard Cosey Coleman suffered a knee injury during pregame warm-ups before its Monday night game against Miami. Instead, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and Co. are ready to face life without Coleman. Tampa Bay backup C/G Todd Washington will start at right guard for the Pewter Pirates while Coleman is sidelined for about one month, but Washington is not 100 percent healthy, either.
Washington, who had offseason surgery to repair some ligament damage in his knee, still is feeling the effects of that surgery. But the Bucs are counting on Washington to fill the void left by Coleman, and he said he's ready to play through the pain.
"Sometimes it feels fine, sometimes it feels real sore," Washington said about his knee. "But that's what happens when you have surgery and come back quick. My muscle tone is not where it's supposed to be. It's something I have to work on everyday.
"You have to play through it (the pain). This will probably be something that bothers me for the rest of the season. I'm going to have to trust it again. It's kind of hard to do, but it's the only thing left to do when you're hurt."
Gruden expects Washington, who signed a four-year contract with the Bucs during the offseason, to make the most of his opportunity to start on Tampa Bay's offensive line.
"Todd (Washington) is going to be fine," said Gruden. "He's got a little bit of soreness, but other than that, there's nothing structurally wrong. He's got to fight through this right now. This is the opportunity he's been waiting for his whole career."
Washington likely will start at right guard when the Bucs open the regular season at Raymond James Stadium on September 8 against the New Orleans Saints. But it wouldn't be the first time for Washington, who started at center on opening day last season in place of Jeff Christy, who had sprained his MCL during preseason.
"It's very unfortunate, but that's how things shakedown sometimes," Washington said about Coleman's injury. "I've been in this situation before when Jeff (Christy) missed the season opener against Dallas. I'm not a stranger to it. I just have to concentrate on guard now instead of center and get the job done."
Bucs offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Muir said it was helpful to have a veteran like Washington to step up and fill in for Coleman.
"That (being experienced and flexible) is one of the advantages of a veteran player," said Muir. "Now, if you're asking a rookie to make a lot of changes, that's a different story. But a veteran player should be fairly flexible. If you want to be flexible in this league, there are two things you ought to be able to do. You have to be able to improvise and adjust. Everyday there's going to be five things that happen that you didn't expect. You have to be able to handle that. That's a characteristic of a winning football team. So right now, I feel very bad for Cosey. It was an unfortunate thing. He'll bounce back and recover, but meanwhile, we have to adjust."
The Buccaneers currently are exploring the possibility of obtaining at least one offensive guard via free agency.
"Well, training camp depth is a problem," said Muir. "We'll juggle some people around and Coach Gruden and the personnel department is busy looking at what might be available. There are a lot of considerations, and we'll move on that as we see things develop."
"We're going to look around," said Gruden. "We're contemplating who and how and all of those things at this time. But we're going to look into that situation."
Another option might be moving an offensive tackle to the guard position, but Gruden would like to avoid that scenario if possible.
"It's a possibility (moving one of the tackles to the guard position), but we have a competitive situation going at tackle," said Gruden. "We don't really want to disrupt that right now in fairness to what we want to get done at right and left tackle."
Despite having a banged up offensive line, the Buccaneers actually were in good shape in terms of injuries on Wednesday morning.
"We held Marco Battaglia this morning," said Gruden. He was kicked in the shin and he has a bruise. He'll be ready to go tomorrow. Marquise Walker has an injury of some kind -- I really don't know. I think he's just a bit sore. He was held this morning also."
STAMPER STILL MISSING IN ACTION:
Tampa Bay 2002 sixth-round draft pick defensive end John Stamper still is sidelined with a hamstring injury. He has been sidelined with the injury since the first week of training camp, and the team doesn't expect to have him back on the field anytime soon.
"He (Stamper) has struggled with this injury for quite a while," said Gruden. "It doesn't look good here in the next 10 days. But we'll stay optimistic. He's getting treatment and he's doing all he can do. But it doesn't look like he'll be out on the field here in the next week to 10 days."
Stamper's chances of securing a spot on Tampa Bay's 53-man roster have been severely damaged, and if his hamstring injury continues to linger, he may be one of the first players released when the Buccaneers begin trimming its roster after the Washington Redskins game on August 24.
ROSTER CUTS APPROACHING:
Tampa Bay will have its first series of training camp/preseason roster cuts soon after the Buccaneers play the Redskins at Raymond James Stadium on Aug. 24. But Gruden and Co. apparently are thinking about those cuts everyday, and the team's game at Jacksonville on Friday night will weigh heavily into the coaching staff's decisions in terms of who they cut and who they keep.
"After the Redskin game I think is our first cutdown date," said Gruden. "But we're thinking about that every night. There are some unique competitions going on right now that make this Jacksonville game meaningful."
While Gruden has felt the competition at every position has been intense, some positions will make roster decisions more difficult than others.
"I think it's been competitive everywhere," said Gruden. "It's very interesting on the offensive line now with the injury to Coleman. It's interesting at wide receiver, it's interesting at linebacker and very interesting in our secondary."
WELCOME ABOARD, JAY:
As expected, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden's younger brother, Jay, joined the Buccaneers' coaching staff in Lake Buena Vista on Monday night.
"Jay's first day is today," said Jon Gruden. "He just didn't come to practice because he's with (offensive quality control coach) Jeremy Bates putting together the game plan for Jaguars. So, he got himself acclimated last night and he'll be out on the field with us this afternoon."
Jay Gruden will serve as an offensive assistant with the Buccaneers.
"He'll be an offensive assistant and he'll help with a lot of different roles," Jon Gruden said. "But the big thing right now is he'll learn how to breakdown film, learn how the computers work and start to get familiarized with our system."
Jay Gruden has coached the Orlando Predators for five years and played quarterback for the team until they were eliminated from the playoffs earlier this month. Jay Gruden played six seasons with the Tampa Bay Storm, leading the team to a 68-13 overall record as the team's starting quarterback and four Arena Bowl championships. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 17,468 yards, 318 touchdowns and 88 interceptions.
BUCS BATTLE THROUGH SHORT WEEK:
Tampa Bay is scheduled to hold just four practices before the team travels to Jacksonville on Friday to play the Jaguars. Gruden will have his troops sport shorts for all four practices in order to allow his players to recover from Monday night's game against Miami and have gas in the tank when they clash with their in-state rival.
"We'll be in shorts this week and we feel that's the right thing to do," said Gruden. "We've got some injuries on the offensive lines and we've got some sore bodies and it is a short week. But we're going to get four quality practices in and we'll be off to Jacksonville."
NO PEWTER REPORT INSIDER REPORTS THIS WEEK:
Due to the short week and the repetitive nature of reports from Tampa Bay's practices in shorts, there will be no PewterReport.com Insider training camp reports this week.
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