Reinforcements from I.R.

The Buccaneers have added 10 men to the roster since the start of free agency (S Dashon Goldson, WR Kevin Ogletree, LB Jonathan Casillas, TE Tom Crabtree, DT Derek Landri, K Nate Kaeding, DE George Selvie, FB Brian Leonard, WR Steve Smith and WR Eric Page).  Next week, they’ll bring in another handful of players through the 2013 NFL Draft, just before the offseason workout program kicks into higher gear with the arrival of OTAs.

The Crabtrees-and-Draftees won’t be the only significant additions to the depth chart since the end of the 2012 season, however.  There’s another group of players from whom the Bucs hope to get a lot more in 2013 than they did last fall, including a pair of proven Pro Bowlers.  For these players, the start of the offseason program on Monday was a long time coming.

The Bucs finished the 2012 season with 13 players on injured reserve.  Of that baker’s dozen, nine are still with the team, and most are eager to get started immediately on their comeback campaigns.  Those nine men coming back from I.R. are:

  • DE Adrian Clayborn (Sept. 24)
  • TE Drake Dunsmore (Dec. 18)
  • S Cody Grimm (Nov. 26)
  • G Davin Joseph (Aug. 27)
  • CB Myron Lewis (Dec. 10)
  • DE Aaron Morgan (Dec. 22)
  • G Carl Nicks (Oct. 30)
  • TE Danny Noble (Oct. 30)
  • G/T Desmond Wynn (Aug. 31)

The dates in parentheses by each player indicate when they were placed on injured reserve, and that’s significant.  Those nine maneuvers were spread out across the preseason and regular season, but it’s noteworthy that Clayborn, Joseph and Nicks were all lost in the first half of the season.  Joseph, in fact, went down in August and Clayborn only made it three weeks into the campaign.  That was quite frustrating at the time, but now it’s an advantage.  All three of those likely starters in 2013 have advanced quite far in their respective rehabilitation processes.

The Bucs didn’t do any field work beyond conditioning programs on Monday, as that is all that is allowed in Phase One of the offseason program.  However, Head Coach Greg Schiano noted in particular that Clayborn, “looks good and feels good.”  Clayborn led the team in sacks with 7.5 as a rookie first-rounder in 2011 and the team is counting on his presence pumping up the pass-rush in 2013.

Like Clayborn, Joseph went down with an ACL tear, his occurring in the third week of the preseason.  The Bucs had envisioned Joseph and Nicks forming one of the best – if not the best – guard tandems in the NFL.  Now that will be an added asset in 2013, and the good news is that all involved should be able to participate significantly in the offseason program.

“Yeah, I do think they are going to be able to do that,” said Schiano.  “Certainly if there’s anything that comes up between now and then that would risk them harming themselves in any way, then we pull back.  It is my plan that they are going to be able to do that.  I’m pleased that they are coming along well, both of them.”

Clayborn, Joseph and Nicks were robbed of most of the 2012 season, but they went at their recovery as hard as they would have prepared for the games they were missing, and it’s paying off now.  Those three, and the Bucs’ other players returning from I.R., also had the advantage of working with a group of medical professionals that was recently named the NFL’s Athletic Training Staff of the Year.

“[This is] a chance to brag on [Director of Sports Medicine and Performance] Todd Toriscelli and our medical staff,” said Schiano on Monday.  “I think they do a great job with our doctors and it’s just gone on throughout since the season.  Guys have been working at it and I’m confident that they’ll be okay.”

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