Ninety-man rosters, heightened intensity and a few days before pads go on make injuries a not-uncommon occurrence at the beginning of any team's training camp. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sustained two of them of note on Friday during their first practice of Camp 2012.
Wide receiver Arrelious Benn suffered a knee injury and cornerback E.J. Biggers injured his foot during the 160-minute practice on Friday morning. On Saturday, Head Coach Greg Schiano revealed that neither player is expected back in the next few days. In fact, both Biggers and Benn may be sidelined for the remainder of the three-week training camp.
Schiano said that neither Benn nor Biggers would require surgery but that a timetable for the return of either player has yet to be established.
"I'm not certain what it's going to be time-wise – we'll have to play that by ear – but it's not a short thing for both of them," he explained. "It's going to be more than two weeks and then we'll go from there. You never know. I ask for 'worst-case' and 'best-case' and usually it's somewhere in between."
An absence of more than two weeks would essentially preclude either player from returning to the field before the end of camp on August 16. Obviously, the team continues practicing after the end of camp in preparation for preseason games and the start of the regular season, so the camp deadline isn't necessarily significant. The regular season opens on September 9, a little over six weeks after the two injuries occurred.
Benn and Biggers will spend the coming weeks recovering from their injuries and developing their game in any way they can outside of practice.
"It's part of the game, unfortunately, in no-pads," said Schiano. "It's just an unfortunate thing, but we've got to keep pressing on. Those two guys will get back. They're going to keep preparing and working. My philosophy when a guy gets injured is, certainly there are things you can't do with skill development, but there's a lot of things you can do. In the weight room, rehab – that's what we're going to do. We're going to work at the things you can control."
Benn has spent a little time on the injured reserve or game-day inactive lists in each of his first two NFL seasons, but in both cases it was very late in the campaign. He has played in 29 of a possible 32 games over the last two seasons, missing the season finale in 2010 and two of the last three contests in 2011. Biggers, on the other hand, sat out his entire rookie season in 2009 due to a shoulder injury suffered in the preseason. He says his current injury is not the same situation.
"It's just something that happened," he said. "We're competing, and little nicks happen, but I'll be back shortly. This is something I can come back from. I'm just going to get back in the training room, get with the strength coaches and I'll be back in no time."
The Bucs have had a few other players leave practice during the first two days, but mostly due to heat-related issues. Wide receiver Mike Williams went inside a few periods early on Saturday morning but Schiano said after the practice that he believed the issue to simply be cramping.