TAMPA — When Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano brought his team together for the start of training camp last month, he thought cornerback was one of the deepest positions on the roster.
In the past two days, that depth thinned dramatically.
One day after announcing CB Anthony Gaitor will miss the season with a torn ACL, Tampa Bay said on Tuesday that CB Danny Gorrer could miss a month or more with a groin injury.
Both were expected to make the team's final roster as reserves. With the status CB Darrelle Revis still uncertain, corner depth could become a problem.
“We have enough right now, but if we lose any more it's going to get dicey,'' Schiano said. “Not dicey like last year dicey. That was really dicey. But that has actually put us in a better position now.''
The Bucs ranked last in the league in pass defense in 2012, forced to rely heavily on their depth at corner after starters Aqib Talib and Eric Wright were lost to four-game suspensions and Talib was traded to the Patriots.
E.J. Biggers, who left for the Redskins in free agency, made 12 starts , while Gaitor, Gorrer and rookie Leonard Johnson also started games.
The Bucs fortified the position during the offseason, trading for Revis, signing veteran Mike Adams in free agency and selecting Johnthan Banks in the second round of the draft. They also brought in undrafted rookie free agents Rashaan Melvin and Deveron Carr, who might have to play more than expected.
Not that Schiano has a problem with that.
“As a group they've all been playing well,'' Schiano said of the cornerbacks. “You keep looking and the one thing that's a positive is that there are no balls flying over the player's heads.
“Sure, (opponents) are making some catches underneath, but our guys have been tackling well. And if you can just keep balls from flying over your heads you'll be in every game.''
Stirred, not shaken
Bucs QB Josh Freeman has had a pretty tough preseason. He's completed just 12 of 26 passes for 101 yards and no touchdowns, been sacked nine times and been by Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton. It's enough to shake the confidence of any player.
Schiano, however, doesn't think Freeman's confidence is shaken.
“He's seeing things very well, and there's two parts to that,” Schiano said. “First, every time he came to the sidelines he could tell me what happened. Sometimes, a quarterback comes to the sideline and you're like, 'What happened?' 'I don't know. It hit me in the back of the head.' But he knew what happened. He knew what happened down the field. He knew where he wanted to go with the ball. Sometimes he just didn't have time.
“As a coach you write those things down and remember them and then you watch it on tape and, sure enough, what he thought he saw is what he saw. And to me, as long as he seeing it right, we'll get better protection and we'll get the ball out of his hand and we won't drop them.
“So, I think in his mind he feels more comfortable than he's ever felt in this offense since he's been part of it. Again, I think he is going to be fine. We had real good work today and he's getting it against the first-team defense. It's high speed and all the things we do are game-time situations. It's not the same as a game — I'm agreeing with you on that — but he'll be fine.''
Good to be back
RG Davin Joseph came away from his first game action in a year on Saturday feeling some general soreness, but nothing that threatens to derail his projected return to the starting lineup on opening day.
“I'm still getting my timing down, but it was decent,'' Joseph said of his play against Miami. “I had a good hard practice (Tuesday), very physical, so I'm just trying to get as many reps as I can before we get going for real.''
Joseph sustained a season-ending knee injury Week 3 of the preseason last year. He has not ruled out playing in the final preseason game Thursday against Washington.
“It's not just my decision, but for me personally, if I was out there with (starting C Jeremy) Zuttah and (starting RT Demar) Dotson and everybody else, then yeah,'' Joseph said. “But if it's not that group, I don't know if they want me out there.''