On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went back to the practice field for the first time since Sunday's loss against the Houston Texans. However, a total of nine team members were out for that day. What surprised many is the absence of left tackle Donovan, who reportedly sustained a knee injury.
Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said last week's match against the Texans was D. Smith's best game in the season to date. But according to the Tampa Bay Times, the second-round draft pick has suffered from a knee injury in the said game which now threatens to put him on the shelf for a long time.
Coach Smith mentioned that he is hopeful that the offensive tackle will be practicing again on Thursday. However, the player's injury was said to be serious enough that the Bucs had waived running back Mike James and promoted fellow tackle Reid Fragel on Wednesday.
Fragel was moved from the practice lineup to the active roster in order to accommodate for the potential loss of Donovan Smith. As of Thursday, the team's official site listed Smith as "Limited" alongside three other players with the same status.
Smith's injury was not immediately known as he played the entire game on Sunday and was able to stand firm against the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. The Bucs coach admitted during Wednesday's practice that the left tackle did "hit his knee" during that game but mentioned that he "should be okay."
If the 22-year-old tackle will not be available soon, the Buccaneers will likely use Kevin Pamphile, who performed well at the left tackle position during the preseason. The Bucs Nation observed that Pamphile, last year's fifth-round pick, has improved commendably after barely taking the field last season.
The publication even noted that he may actually be a better pass blocker than Smith at this point but indicated that using him will represent a downgrade in the running game. Another option for the team is to move Gosder Cherilus' position from right to left tackle then insert Pamphile in at right tackle.
The other Buccaneers players who failed to participate on Wednesday include safety cornerback Johnthan Banks, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, center Evan Smith and tight end Luke Stocker, who have been down with knee, shoulder, ankle, and hip injuries, respectively.
Aside from Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay's four members who are tagged as Limited during practice due to individual injuries are defensive end George Johnson (neck), safety Major Wright (abdomen), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (shoulder), and safety Chris Conte (hip).