Bucs right guard Coleman out a month
The starting right guard's knee injury, sustained in Monday's warmups, requires surgery.
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 14, 2002
LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Injuries are as much a part of football as are chin straps. There's the head-butting, the collision of pads, the twisting of knees.
And that's just during pregame warmups.
At least that was the case before Monday night's game against the Dolphins when Bucs starting right guard Cosey Coleman sustained an injury that will sideline him a month.
"When you lose Cosey Coleman and you see the guy getting carted off in pregame warmups, that feels like you swallowed an apple whole," coach Jon Gruden said.
"I was thinking about that. I've seen guys get hurt celebrating after they make field goals, I've seen guys get hurt spiking balls, but I can't say that I've seen a guy get hurt in pregame warmup."
Coleman, a third-year pro from Tennessee, had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday in Miami to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and will miss four weeks. The injury further depleted an already thin offensive line.
Todd Washington, who started at right guard in the Bucs' 14-10 preseason win over the Dolphins, assumes Coleman's spot in the lineup. But Washington is nursing a painfully swollen knee, and backup guard Kendaell Mack tore his left medial collateral ligament against Miami and could be placed on injured reserve. Guard Shane Grice has tendinitis in his ankle and was wearing a protective boot Tuesday, and he could miss Friday's game at Jacksonville.
That leaves second-year guard Russ Hochstein and rookie center Zack Quaccia as the only reserve interior linemen.
Gruden said the team will consider moving veteran tackle Pete Pierson inside while attempting to sign a free agent. Among those available are Matt Campbell, released by Houston, and former Redskins guard Ben Coleman.
"Obviously that's a blow to our football team," Gruden said of Coleman's injury. "We hope to have Cosey back before that, but it's very unfortunate. I've never seen that happen to a man in pregame warmups.
"That is a real downer, and it's hard to show the resilience you want to show right away. You know, you just can't believe that one. But we've got to believe in our hopes and not in our fears, and we've got to rely on Todd Washington and some of these other guys to step up."
Gruden was hard-pressed to explain exactly how Coleman was injured.
"Just taking a pass set in a pregame warmup, a standard NFL pregame warmup drill with an offensive and defensive lineman getting loose down there," Gruden said. "He just planted, redirected and suffered this injury."
Coleman's injury leaves center Jeff Christy as the only offensive lineman at the same position he started for the Bucs last season.
But even without Coleman, Tampa Bay rushed for 182 yards against the Dolphins.
"We felt we ran the ball extremely well, inside and out, with a lot of different backs," Gruden said. "(Michael) Pittman only carried it twice. I think (Mike) Alstott only carried it twice. We wanted to get a good look at our rookie (Travis Stephens).
"I wanted to throw the ball more. But with the injury situation on the offensive line, that made it tough. But when you have three quarterbacks and you want to evaluate them in a game situation, I've been one to maybe throw the ball too much in the preseason. But we're very, very encouraged by our ability to run the ball. We ran for 180 yards against the Dolphins. That's a pretty good start." Before Coleman's injury, it appeared new offensive line coach Bill Muir had settled on a starting unit with Christy, Coleman, left guard Kerry Jenkins, left tackle Roman Oben and right tackle Kenyatta Walker, who moved from the left side. Now Muir might have to shuffle the deck again.
"We're going to have to adjust," Gruden said. "No question we're going to have to look around and see who's available. We're going to have to obviously shuffle our lineup again this week. In fairness to Todd Washington, he's been injured the last four or five days, has missed some time, was pressed into service last night as a starter at right guard against (Tim) Bowens and those guys who are good players."
But Gruden still appeared to be in disbelief about the timing of Coleman's injury, which occurred minutes before kickoff.
"I was shocked. I was shocked. I still am shocked," Gruden said. "But you've got to get over it, you know what I mean? You've got to get over it. You can't make excuses."
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