The challenge of rebounding from a disappointing season has gotten a little tougher for the youthful Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Two-time Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph tore the patellar tendon in his right knee during a preseason victory over New England and will miss the regular season after knee surgery on Monday.
”It’s big. But it’s part of what we do,” coach Greg Schiano said Saturday. ”You mourn and you move on. That’s what we have to do. Davin wants us to do that. He’s going to have surgery and start his road to recovery, and we’ve got to fix our sights on how we are going to move forward.”
Joseph was injured during the second quarter of Friday’s game when tackle Donald Penn blocked a Patriots lineman into the back of Joseph’s leg. The seventh-year pro remained on the ground for several minutes, clutching his knee before leaving the field on a cart.
”The guy did an inside move. (Penn) recovered and his man went down and fell on the back of Davin,” Schiano said. ”It’s one of those wrong place, wrong time things.”
Reserve Ted Larsen replaced Joseph at right guard against the Patriots, however Schiano is not ready to say the third-year pro will be the Bucs’ opening day starter.
Larsen started 14 games for the Bucs over the past two seasons, primarily at left guard. Another third-year pro, Derek Hardman, is listed as Joseph’s backup on the depth chart, and Schiano said there are options to consider.
”We’re going to try to work a couple of things … and then quickly come to a pecking order,” Schiano said.
”I think we have the answer internally. That’s why we’ve been trying to build depth at all the positions,” Schiano added. ”But we always look outside. That’s a constant. If there’s somebody we think fits our mold, we’ll try to do what we can to get them.”
Joseph, 28, is the leader of an offensive line that’s considered one of the strongest assets of a team that went 4-12 and ended last season on a 10-game losing streak.
The offseason acquisition of free agent All-Pro left guard Carl Nicks gave the Bucs what many believed would be one of the best guard tandems in the NFL this season.
”It’s unfortunate. Davin’s one of our leaders,” quarterback Josh Freeman said after Friday’s game. ”He’s a tough guy; a hard-working guy.”
While Schiano will consider several options to fill Joseph’s spot, the coach reiterated that with only one preseason game remaining it’s important to settle on a course of action quickly to give the replacement as much time as possible to prepare with the other starters for the Sept. 9 season opener against Carolina.
”It’s part of the deal,” the coach said. ”Everything moves on.”