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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O'Dwyer Sidelined by Chest Injury

A weightlifting injury will cost G Matt O’Dwyer all of training camp and put his season in question, providing an early test for the Bucs’ carefully constructed O-line depth


Guard Matt O'Dwyer had lined up at left guard with the starting unit during June's mini-camp

Veteran offensive guard Matt O'Dwyer will miss training camp and perhaps some of the regular season due to a chest injury, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers revealed on Tuesday.

O'Dwyer recently sustained a left pectoral tear while lifting weights on his own and subsequently had surgery to repair the injury. As a result, he will miss all of the team's upcoming training camp, and the team considers his status for the regular season uncertain.

"I'm very disappointed that this happened but I'm going to do all that I can to get back as quickly as possible," said O'Dwyer, who was hurt while working out at team headquarters after the conclusion of the team's offseason strength and conditioning program.

At the Bucs' late-June mini-camp, O'Dwyer lined up with the first-team offensive line, playing left guard. His potential loss, then, would be a significant one for Tampa Bay, but it comes at a position where the team was careful to build impressive veteran depth over the offseason.

"This is an unfortunate injury for Matt, but we feel we have sufficient depth on our roster at this time," said General Manager Bruce Allen. "We are looking forward to the start of training camp and some great competition at all positions on our club."

O'Dwyer, who joined the Buccaneers on March 9, was one of four veteran offensive linemen signed by the Buccaneers during the first 11 days of the 2004 free agency period. Most of them boasted a very helpful versatility; Derrick Deese and Matt Stinchcomb, for instance, have both started at several spots on the line, and Stinchcomb had slid into the starting right guard spot at mini-camp.

In addition, the Bucs made their forays into free agency without denuding the team of its holdover O-line depth of 2003. Though tackle Roman Oben was eventually traded to San Diego, all three guards who started for the Bucs last year – Cosey Coleman, Kerry Jenkins and Jason Whittle – were re-signed or retained. Whittle has used the offseason to regain health in his left shoulder, which was hampered by a sprain through most of 2003. More recently, Coleman has worked hard to rebound from the effects of intestinal surgery, which robbed him of strength and bulk.

Jenkins, Whittle and Coleman would all seem like strong candidates to replace O'Dwyer on the first team line to begin camp. Last season, Coleman started the first five games at left guard and Jenkins started the last 11, a shift made after Whittle suffered his injury and Coleman moved back to his original position of right guard. Whittle started the first five games at right guard.

O'Dwyer could miss a significant portion of the season for the second straight fall. Last year, as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, he played in just four games before sustaining a foot injury. However, from 1995-2002, O'Dwyer played in 114 games and started 104 with the Bengals and New York Jets.

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