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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Aaron Stinnie Lost to Season-Ending Knee Injury

Head Coach Todd Bowles acknowledged Sunday that the Bucs’ offensive line depth has been pushed to the limit after potential starter Aaron Stinnie suffered ACL and MCL injuries in his left knee Saturday night


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beleaguered offensive line took another hit on Saturday night when fifth-year guard Aaron Stinnie was carted off the field with a left knee injury in the third quarter of the team's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. On Sunday, Head Coach Todd Bowles confirmed that Stinnie had suffered ACL and MCL tears in the knee, which would bring his 2022 season to a premature end.

Stinnie was one of the competitors in a battle to replace retired Pro Bowler Ali Marpet at left guard, and the most experienced player in group. That competition is now likely down to second-year player Nick Leverett and rookie Luke Goedeke, a second-round pick in the 2022 draft.

"Luke and Leverett do a great job right now," said Bowles. "They're getting a lot of reps so they've earned that right to compete for that spot. If maybe one more goes down… We don't mind playing rookies; we've been playing rookies since we've been here. It's just a matter of them getting in-game experience. So we're comfortable with the guys we have right now, but if we can find an option that's out there that fits us, we'll look at it."

The Buccaneers were already set to enter the regular season with new starters at all three interior line spots. Alex Cappa left in free agency to join the Cincinnati Bengals but the Buccaneers moved quickly to fill that spot at right guard by trading with New England for veteran Shaq Mason. Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen suffered a knee injury on the second day of training camp that will keep him out until November, if not the entire season. On Sunday, Bowles conceded that Stinnie's injury has pushed the Bucs' offensive line depth to the limit.

"Anytime you lose depth at any position it's a concern, but we've got guys that can play," he said. "Unfortunate things happen in preseason. Obviously, you can't help the injuries but we can't afford to get any more hurt down there. I think we still have enough right now but we're going to be thin in the depth department."

Stinnie started Saturday's game at right guard, with Goedeke getting his first chance to run with the first team at left guard. Stinnie had replaced Goedeke on the left side in the second half when he went down on a collision with running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn. Stinnie is listed as the starter at left guard on Tampa Bay's preseason depth chart, but it was Leverett who got the start at that spot in the preseason opener against Miami.

Stinnie's game experience includes an impressive run during the 2020 postseason when he replaced an injured Cappa at left guard and drew significant praise from the coaches as the Bucs rolled all the way to the league title in Super Bowl LV. He also started one game at left guard during the 2021 regular season when Marpet was injured. Leverett played in two regular season games and one playoff contest last year, logging a total of 69 offensive snaps. Goedeke, who played right tackle at Central Michigan before being drafted with the 57th overall pick in April, is just getting his feet wet in the NFL. With second-year man Robert Hainsey expected to start at center in Jensen's place, the rest of the Bucs' depth on the

interior line consists of first-year players John Molchon, Brandon Walton and Sadarius Hutcherson, none of whom have seen any regular-season action.

"We have some depth right now but we're always looking to bring in somebody that can help the team," said Bowls. "So if there's something out there that's available to us that we can get, we'll try to take a shot at it."

The Buccaneers placed three offensive linemen in last year's Pro Bowl but are already without two of them following Marpet's retirement and Jensen's injury. The third, All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs, left the team's joint practice with the Titans in Nashville early with an apparent oblique injury. His absence would raise the Bucs' concerns about their offensive line significantly, but Bowles indicated on Sunday that Wirfs' injury isn't serious.

"Right now it's day-to-day," said Bowles. "It shouldn't be much of a concern but we'll monitor going forward."

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