TAMPA — Bucs QB Ryan Griffin, battling for the top backup job behind Jameis Winston, injured his throwing shoulder in Friday's 23-12 preseason-opening loss to the Bengals, and though the injury doesn't require surgery, coach Dirk Koetter said Saturday that he will miss "weeks" recovering.
That means veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is in a strong position to get the job, with undrafted rookie Sefo Liufau likely working as the No. 3 quarterback for the rest of preseason.
Griffin went 4-for-9 for 57 yards against the Bengals before the injury.
"It's not great news," Koetter said. "He … had an MRI (Saturday). … I don't know the exact medical term (for the injury). … It's something that can heal, but it's going to take some time. Weeks."
BECKWITH STEPS UP
Second-year LB Devante Bond, who played as the starting strongside linebacker against the Bengals, is sidelined with an undisclosed leg injury, which means promising rookie Kendell Beckwith will step up at strongside.
"That's only about 20 percent play time," coach Dirk Koetter said, "but we're still going to get Kendell reps inside when we are in nickel defense. … Coming off the knee surgery (Beckwith torn an ACL in November), I think getting him in live contact was good. I think he'll do nothing but get better."
Bond's injury is unrelated to the hamstring injury that sidelined him all last season, and it's possible he will be healthy for the season opener in four weeks.
In other injury news, RB Russell Hansbrough suffered a concussion, is in the protocol and will likely miss this Thursday's game at Jacksonville, Koetter said.
NEW FACES ALL OVER
Seven players tied for the Bucs lead with five tackles each Friday, and six of them have never played a snap on defense in a regular-season game for Tampa Bay: linebackers Kendell Beckwith and Devante Bond, safeties Justin Evans and J.J. Wilcox, and cornerbacks Ryan Smith and Robert McClain.
Tackling wasn't a strong suit at times Friday. On several plays the Bengals were able to get through their initial contact. But the experience of getting in position and learning where (and where not) to be was important as newcomers catch up to returning players, in their second season with coordinator Mike Smith's defense.
ON THE ROAD
The Bucs have a closed practice Sunday, then spend most of the rest of week in Jacksonville, with joint practices with the Jaguars on Monday and Tuesday in advance of their game Thursday night. Monday's practice will be in full pads, Tuesday's in shells.
"That's gold to go against different guys, different looks," coach Dirk Koetter said. "We really don't know exactly what (the Jaguars are) going to do on defense and offense. We saw what they did against New England in their preseason game (Thursday), but they're still installing, we're installing. It's just good work because it's a little bit unpredictable."
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.