T Jason Odom (right) watched from the sidelines again on Wednesday morning, but he hopes to return as soon as possible
If you've been feeling a little anxious about Jason Odom's back, try being in his shoes. While the status of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting left tackle has been the overriding health issue of the 10 days of training camp so far, it has been the primary concern in Odom's professional life for almost a year.
"We always want to be out there," said Odom. "It's been frustrating for me not only just this week and a half but since the third game of last year. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it hasn't been frustrating, because it has, but at the same token, we've got to be smart and give myself the best chance to play."
To recap, Odom played in just three games as the Bucs' starting right tackle last year before lower back pain pushed him out of the lineup. He was inactive for seven weeks as he worked to recovery from the ailment, but eventually opted for surgery in mid-November. After an offseason of rehabilitation, Odom was cleared for full participation in training camp but began experiencing back pain after two days of practices. The pain did not spread to his legs, which would have been a more serious sign, but it also has not quickly cleared up.
As a precautionary measure, Odom was given an MRI exam to look for structural damage in the found. None was detected by the team, but the results were also sent to the surgeon that originally performed Odom's surgery last fall. The team learned last night that that physician, Dr. Jeremy Brigham, also did not find any evidence of a problem.
Thus, surgery is not called for.
"Jason talked to the surgeon for quite awhile," said Head Coach Tony Dungy, "and I think we have a plan of action as far as treatment. His surgeon that did the operation really feels like he's going to be fine, and there was nothing major that he saw in the MRI."
The team and Odom will continue with normal methods of treatment in the hopes of getting Odom back onto the field as quickly as possible. He has not been ordered to stay inactive.
(The doctor) doesn't recommend that I just quit doing everything," said Odom. "Do all the things…do lifting. It's not like I'm back to square one, but be smart about it and try to get back to play."
There is no specific timetable for Odom's return.
"It's day to day," he said. (It feels differently) depending on the movements I do, and things of that nature. It's obviously inflamed right now so we're trying to get that out and go from there."
The Bucs were happy to hear of Dr. Brigham's analysis, but will be even more pleased when Odom's progress speeds up.
"Well, it's kind of a double-edged sword," said Dungy. "In one way, it is reassuring, but then the second thought is we're not sure exactly what is causing the discomfort. Maybe it's just what he's got to work through after getting bumped for the first time in eight or nine months. Hopefully, with a little more rehab, he can get back in the lineup."