Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mark Royals Hurt

The Bucs’ 13th-year punter sustains an injury to his kicking leg on the first day of training camp

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P Mark Royals sustained a right knee sprain during the Bucs' second practice on Monday

The injury bug visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' camp early this summer. Mark Royals was the first one bitten.

The Bucs' extremely dependable veteran punter sustained a right knee injury shortly before 4:00 p.m. during the team's second practice on Monday. It was also just the second practice of Tampa Bay's 2001 training camp.

"He got run into in a punting drill and our doctors are going to examine it," said Head Coach Tony Dungy immediately after practice, which concluded at 5:05 p.m. "We really don't know the extent of the injury at this point.

"That's a drill we do every day and we've done every day since we've been here. We've got to learn how to protect the punter and punt and kick. There's no other way to do it. We'll take a look at what happened and see if we can avoid it in the future. It's just one of those unfortunate things."

Royals was taken from the field into the team's training room by cart. By 5:30 p.m., Head Trainer Todd Toriscelli had diagnosed the injury as a knee sprain but further information was not expected until Tuesday morning.

With Royals out, the Bucs are left with just one punter in camp, first-year player Andrew Bayes. Bayes punted for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the NFL Europe League this spring, averaging 38.4 yards per kick.

"Andrew Bayes is here and he's going to do a good job for us," said Dungy. "We'll take a look at Mark's situation. If it is going to be long-term, we'd obviously look to bring another guy in. But that's all premature right now. If it's a short-term injury, Drew will handle the punting until Mark's back."

Royals' injury was the only apparently serious one during an afternoon in which a long list of players either didn't start practice or didn't finish it.

Three players, TE Todd Yoder, S Dexter Jackson and RB Pepe Pearson, were held out of the day's second workout after suffering cramps following the first one. During the afternoon practice, LB Nate Webster also briefly succumbed to the heat.

There was also a small rash of hamstring injuries. Rookie WR Frank Rice watched from the sideline after straining his left hamstring during the morning. Fellow rookie wideout Jacquay Nunnally also had a twinge in his hamstring from the morning but was able to practice again at 3:30. Rookie RB Jamie Wilson pulled his left hamstring during the afternoon workout.

G Russ Hochstein also watched from the bench due to a hand fracture sustained in the morning. Hochstein broke the third metacarpal in his right hand and was already wearing a cast by the afternoon.

"We hope that he can (practice) in a couple days," said Dungy. "The doctor's going to examine him on Wednesday and we'll make a decision at that point."

Despite the run of minor injuries, Dungy was more pleased with the team's execution during the day's second workout.

"The afternoon was better," he said. "I think we had a little recovery from the heat in the morning. We were a little bit sharper and our fundamentals were a little bit better in the afternoon, which is what you like to see.

"I think we're moving in the right direction."

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