Bucs quarterback Ryan Griffin was forced to leave Friday's 23-12 preseason loss to the Bengals early in the fourth quarter when he injured his right throwing shoulder after being hit attempting to complete a pass to receiver Freddie Martino. Griffin is undergoing further evaluations today. It's unknown whether it will force him to miss playing time.
For Griffin, who enters his third season with a real chance to become the Bucs' No. 2 quarterback behind Jameis Winston, the timing couldn't be worse. Griffin has thrown the football very accurately in training camp and may have had a slight edge over Jets free agent veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick entering Friday's game. Alternating every series with Fitzpatrick after Winston left the game early in the second quarter, Griffin completed 4-of-9 passes for 57 yards but failed to produce any points prior to his injury.
"Yeah, I mean any injury is tough,'' Fitzpatrick said. "You hate to see your teammates get injured or anyone get injured. Ryan was having an exceptional camp. He's been playing great, so that was tough to see him get an opportunity and then go down.''
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Griffin caught a bad break but was uncertain of his condition. "(The competition) is close,'' Koetter said. "Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) looked like he played a lot of football, and of course, we wanted to see Griff play a lot. (His injury) was an unfortunate, freak thing. When he got hit, he fell on his shoulder and the guy landed on him. He still is being evaluated. It was unlucky for Griff and what we expected from Fitz. It was good to see Sefo (Liufau) get in there because he hasn't been getting a lot of reps.''
So what will the Bucs do now? A lot depends on whether Griffin can return before the end of the preseason. He still is eligible for the practice squad, but that would mean having to release him and hoping nobody signed him. Would the Bucs consider signing another quarterback? Before you start a campaign for Colin Kaepernick, consider that most teams only keep two quarterbacks and the combination of Winston-Fitzpatrick gerald is a good one.
Fitzpatrick still is getting used to the Bucs' system under Koetter but managed to produce a touchdown and field goal. "I think it was nice to get into a game situation with Dirk calling the plays and figuring out the tempo and the pace that we're going to have,'' Fitzpatrick said. "Making sure I'm operating the offense with the same procedure as Jameis. That's my been my goal and focus and something I've had to work on since I've been here because it's different than what I've experienced.''
On Friday, Koeter had Fitzpatrick and Griffin alternate every other series, which makes it difficult to get into rhythm. "That's part of it,'' Fitzpatrick said. "I've done it every which way, so I know you've always got to be ready to get in there and when you're in there, you've always got to take advantage of your opportunities.''