NFL Injuries Mount at Tackle, Cornerback

With the first full NFL preseason slate completed, several teams suffered injuries that will alter the depth chart.

Free-agent offensive tackles could have another chance with several injuries at the position around the NFL this weekend.

The Minnesota Vikings lost starting right tackle Phil Loadholt for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, but he wasn’t the only injury at the position in the first full weekend of NFL preseason games. In fact, Loadholt wasn’t even the only injury at the position in his game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their starting right tackle, Demar Dotson, to a sprained left knee later in that game. Dotson will be out “for a period of time,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said.

Smith declared Dotson out for the Bucs’ next game, Aug. 24 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but declined to give even a general timeframe for his return. Dotson has played 54 consecutive games for the Bucs.

“When we have an injury, it’s time for the guys to step up. That’s what we’ll do, see what the best combination will be,” Smith said.

Dotson could miss six weeks, according to NFL.com.

The in-house promotional tactic is one the Vikings are likely to employ, too, as they search for a replacement for Loadholt for the second straight year. Last year, he suffered a torn pectoral injury and missed the final five games. At that time, Mike Harris took the starting spot, but Harris has been starting at right guard for the Vikings this preseason. Rookie T.J. Clemmings is likely to take Loadholt’s spot for now.

The Dallas Cowboys are also expected to be without Pro Bowl tackle Tyron Smith next weekend because of a biceps injury.

In Green Bay, the Packers are short on experienced backups at offensive tackle and are essentially rolling the dice that an injury won’t occur, according to Packer Report.

“I think your question is totally premature, No. 1,” Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy said when pressed about a lack of depth at the position. “We’ve played one preseason game. … There’s things (Don Barclay) could do better and he’ll improve on it. But we’ve got another week. We’re going to work on concepts today and Monday, things we want to clean up. Then we’ll have an opportunity to go into a normal week leading into the Pittsburgh game. So, I have no concerns with any of our players.”

The top available tackle on the free agent market is Jake Long, who was cut by the St. Louis Rams in March. He has since visited the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and New York Giants and reportedly checked out medically.

Tackle wasn’t the only position that suffered multiple injuries over the weekend.

With the St. Louis Rams, cornerback E.J. Gaines had surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in his foot. Gaines started 15 games for the Rams last year as a rookie.

The Rams are scheduled for two days of joint practices with the Cowboys, who have their own concerns at cornerback. Byron Jones suffered a shoulder injury during a collision at Sunday’s practice. Although he is expected to return, it is a concern because he injured the same shoulder at Connecticut and it caused him to miss the rest of the 2014 season because of it.

“That sure was a concern because that was the shoulder he had fixed,” owner Jerry Jones said. “If we had to do anything we could probably do some playing, but under the circumstances we’ll just rest him real good and call it a good thing it worked out.”

The Buffalo Bills are likely to lose defensive lineman Jarius Wynn for an extended time, maybe the season, with a “serious” anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in their preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers.


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