The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved swiftly to shore up their depth at offensive tackle in the wake of Demar Dotson's knee injury, agreeing to terms with eighth-year veteran Gosder Cherilus on Monday. Dotson, who has started the last 47 games for the Buccaneers, most of them at right tackle, is out an indeterminate amount of time after hurting his knee just before halftime of Saturday's preseason opener in Minnesota.
Once Cherilus officially signs a deal with the team, the Buccaneers will need to make a corresponding move to keep their training camp roster at the 90-player limit.
Cherilus gives the Buccaneers something they were lacking in their internal efforts to replace Dotson: NFL experience, and specifically at right tackle. Cherilus has started at that position in each of his seven seasons in the league, with Detroit for five years and Indianapolis the last two. He has played in 104 NFL games and logged exactly 100 starts.
That's more starts than the six offensive tackles currently on the Buccaneers roster have combined. Dotson has started 49 games, while Patrick Omameh opened 16 contests in 2014, but at right guard. The rest of the Bucs' depth at the position is made up of second-year man Kevin Pamphile (two starts in 2014), rookie Donovan Smith and second-year players Edawn Coughman and Reid Fragel, neither of whom owns an NFL start.
Smith and Pamphile were competing for the left tackle job and were listed as co-starters on the team's first depth chart. Pamphile started at left tackle in the preseason opener but Smith also played extensively. The team may look to those two as a potential starting tackle combo during Dotson's absence, but Cherilus at the very least will add experienced depth and another potential starter.
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The Lions drafted Cherilus in the first round of the 2008 draft, with the 17th overall pick. He stepped quickly into the starting lineup, opening up 13 of 16 games as a rookie, and stayed there throughout his tenure in Detroit. During the 2013 offseason, Cherilus signed a five-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts, starting all 29 games in which he played over the next two seasons. His 2014 campaign season ended prematurely due to a knee injury, and he was released by the Colts just before the start of training camp.