DT James Cannida, who suffered a left knee injury on Friday, will be re-evaluated on Saturday
Depending on the doctors' reports on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cut down to 53 players may have just become a little easier or a little more difficult.
Three Buccaneers suffered injuries of some significance on Friday evening in Atlanta, during the team's preseason-concluding 36-7 loss to the Falcons. This comes less than 48 hours before Tampa Bay must reduce its roster by 18 players to meet the NFL's regular-season limit.
An injury that knocks a player out for the entire season can, in an unwelcome way, make a roster decision much simpler to make. However, an injury that sidelines a player for a few weeks or a few months can further complicate matters as a team attempts to cover itself at each position.
At some point on Saturday, the Buccaneers will know more about the status of G Kendell Mack (triceps/wrist), CB Dwight Smith (foot) and DT James Cannida (knee). All three will be evaluated in detail by team physician John Zvijac, an orthopedics specialist, in an attempt to determine how much time each will miss.
Mack suffered a pair of injuries to his left arm, a torn triceps muscle and a wrist fracture. That combination should keep him out for a significant amount of time.
Smith, a rookie and the team's third-round draft choice in April, has a mid-foot sprain on his right foot, an injury that can be troublesome for a defensive back asked to backpedal, plant and turn quite a bit.
Cannida sustained a left knee sprain during Atlanta running back Maurice Smith's fourth-quarter touchdown run. Team trainers are certain there is damage to Cannida's medial collateral ligament (MCL), an injury similar to the ones suffered earlier this summer by punter Mark Royals and center Jeff Christy. On Saturday, Zvijac will determine if there are any other issues in the knee, such as damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). That answer will help determine how long Cannida's absence will be.
Head Coach Tony Dungy will address the injury situation on Saturday at his usual day-after-game press conference, carried live on Buccaneers.com after the team's late-afternoon practice.
Dungy addressed a variety of game issues on Friday evening from the Bucs' locker room. A few of his thoughts follow.
On his overall assessment of the game: "Obviously, there were not a lot of good things out there this evening. Not much good for us. Atlanta looked like they played with a lot of intensity and flew around, made things happened and created turnovers. I saw a lot of good things out there from the Falcons."
On his impressions of the team's starting units: "I can't really say as they didn't play all that long. The defensive group was in there for a long drive. They were offsides when we had the chance for a sack to stop a drive. We were just not as sharp as you need to be. Offensively, I thought that we got some things done with our first group that we wanted to, but not enough."
On the sharp play of the starting offense in the early going: "I wanted to go with some of our hurry-up stuff and get some throws in with our four wideout package. I thought that it went pretty well. We threw an interception in the red zone, which you cannot do, but we came back and scored the next time, which was encouraging. It was our plan to do two series with the first-team offense, one no-huddle and one regular series. Other than the interception in the end zone, it went about as well as we would have expected."
On QB Brad Johnson's performance: "He's not as sharp as he will be down the road. You never want to throw interceptions and you never want to throw them in the red zone. I expect that won't happen in the regular season. He's getting better and improving and the more he plays with these guys the better he will be."