Buccaneers Face Preseason Without Antonio Bryant

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IAugust 10, 2009

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 21: Wide receiver Antonio Bryant #89 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes upfield with a pass against the San Diego Chargers at Raymond James Stadium on December 21, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Antonio Bryant is the proven play maker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They will have to play the preseason without him.

Head coach Raheem Morris announced after practice on Monday afternoon that Bryant will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery to get rid of chronic swelling.

"We're gonna get it cleaned out. Might as well get it fixed right now while we can," Morris told WDAE's Steve Duemig as his team wrapped up their Monday session.

The surgery means  Bryant will miss the entire four-game preseason but he should be back in action for the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on September 13 at Raymond James Stadium.

Bryan Clark is listed behind Bryant on the camp depth chart, released on Monday.

Bryant's absence, however, should open the spot for an assortment of receivers to get a look from Morris and his staff.

Luke McCown has been named the starter for the Saturday game at Tennessee. He is listed ahead of Byron Leftwich on the depth chart but the race has basically become a dead-heat, depending on who you talk with.

McCown will play at least the first half Saturday then Leftwich will start the following week.

This preseason should be immensely different from the Jon Gruden regime. Gruden played his starters for one or two series and that was it.

Morris needs to get a good look at a lot of his untested players so that should make for interesting action in these four games.

With the final cuts to the 53-man roster only 26 days away, jobs and futures are on the line.

General manager Mark Dominik says he's been spending a lot of time with Morris and they've been reviewing different scenarios for the final 53-man roster.

They'll have to keep a spot for Bryant, even though they won't see him now for a month.

It's a scenario they weren't planning on but it was becoming obvious that Bryant's knee couldn't take two practices without swelling. Something had to be done, the decision was made quickly.

Now it's a matter of the remaining receivers stepping up.

Bryant, the franchise-tag receiver, will be hard to replace, even if it is the preseason.


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