WithDemar Dotson sidelinedfor an indeterminate amount of time by a knee injury and second-year man Kevin Pamphile sitting out practice with a minor triceps issue, the starting reps at right tackle on Monday went to second-year player Reid Fragel.
Actually, it was Fragel and not Pamphile who was second into the game on Saturday night after Dotson was injured just before halftime, as was the plan. Pamphile started the game at left tackle and is competing for that job with rookie second-rounder Donovan Smith. Still, Pamphile might be a consideration to play on the right side during Demar Dotson's absence, as will experienced veteran Gosder Cherilus. The Buccaneers agreed to terms on a contract with Cherilus on Monday while the team was on the practice field.
The Buccaneers are likely to explore a number of options in the wake of Dotson's injury, but Fragel got the first crack at the right tackle job on Monday and his approach now is to prepare as if he'll be the starter.
"I'm just going to control what I can control," he said. "Moving forward, I'm going to act as if I'm the starting going into Monday, and if that changes, so be it. It's kind of like a dream come true. I get a chance to go out there and what I want to do is make a name for myself. I've got that opportunity.
"It's just an opportunity to get better and finally get a real look out there with everybody, jelling together. It's nice to be a part of it for once."
Fragel, a former Ohio State standout, first entered the league as a seventh-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. He ended up on the Bengals' practice squad to begin his rookie season but was later signed off that crew to the Cleveland Browns' active roster. He didn't see any game action that fall but went to camp with the Browns the following summer. After being waived at the end of the preseason, he caught on for practice squad stints in Indianapolis and Atlanta in 2014. The Falcons waived Fragel on the first day of May and the Bucs swooped in to claim him.
Now on his fifth team, Fragel simply wants to make sure he's ready whenever an opportunity presents itself, as it may be doing now.
"You never want to see a guy go down like that, and thank God it's not too terrible, but Coach told me to be ready to go in after Dot," he said. "It happened a little bit early and it was unfortunate how it happened, but I'm ready to go."
- Pamphile wasn't the only player who wasn't ready to return to practice on Monday after Saturday's game. The team also worked out without the services of defensive end Jacquies Smith and linebacker Orie Lemon.
Lovie Smith provided some specifics on the ailments suffered by Pamphile and Smith but didn't seem to believe any of the new injuries from Saturday's game were significant, beyond the one suffered by Dotson.
"From a game like that we have some bumps and bruises," said Lovie Smith. "Nothing serious for many of the guys, but if we held them out they have something that they are nursing. Hopefully they will be back before long."
On the other hand, two players who missed Saturday's game were back in action on Monday. Rookie wide receiver Rannell Hall practiced after sitting out the Vikings contest with an unspecified (but obviously minor) injury, and continued his strong camp with an impressive leaping catch in the penultimate full-team period. Safety Keith Tandy returned to the team after missing the Minnesota trip due to a death in the family. "We were just concerned about Keith," said Smith. "Whenever you lose someone close like that, [it's] tragic. I didn't actually know him personally, but I know Keith. We just wanted to be there like we'll be there [for] anyone in our program in times when they need support. I'm talking the entire team. Life has to go on. It was good to get Keith back here. Probably good for him right now to get back around his team."