Bucs defensive end Will Gholston will make a healthy return Sunday in Atlanta after missing two games with a neck injury, and he's thankful and relieved not to have to deal with anything more severe.
"It was knee-buckling," Gholston said. "I was standing up, and they just buckled. That's how bad it hurt."
It was a scary scene in the Superdome, with Gholston laying on his back on the field, strapped to a stretcher and carted off the field and taken by ambulance to a local hospital. He was released in time to fly home with the team, but the nature of the injury made it more difficult initially.
"The neck is a little worrisome, because you have to think about everything else, think about family and all that," Gholston said. "They definitely took all of the correct steps for me. I'm not glad it happened, but I'm glad they took the right steps for me to get back."
Returning to practice this week was a major step, and he said once he took his first real hit, he knew he was OK for returning to the playing field.
"I took my first hit and I was OK, and I was good. I'm confident," he said. "Everybody has a plan til they get hit in the mouth. I got hit in the mouth and I was OK."
The Bucs get one starting defensive end back from injury, but that coincides with the other starter, Robert Ayers, being sidelined with a concussion.
"Basically this week, just due to injuries, we're trading out Robert Ayers for Will Gholston. You're robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak," coach Dirk Koetter said. "You play a whole bunch of games in a row, 53 guys, you're going to be trading guys in and out due to injury. It is what it is."