The Buccaneers have placed starting LT Donovan Smith on the reserve/COVID-19 list, per a team announcement. As a result, Smith will miss Tampa’s matchup with the Falcons on Sunday.
The 27-year-old blocker released a statement saying that he had close contact with a family member who recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Per league protocols, Smith must self-quarantine for at least five days.
Smith has never been a world-beater, but even an average blindside protector is a valuable commodity in the NFL, as evidenced by the three-year, $41.25MM contract Smith signed with the Bucs in 2019. He has been entrenched as the Bucs’ starting LT since Tampa selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft, and this Sunday’s contest will be just the second missed game of his career.
2020 has actually been a solid year for him relative to his usual performance, at least if you believe the advanced metrics. Pro Football Focus thinks favorably of both his run-blocking and pass-blocking this season and considers him the 39th-best tackle in the league out of 80 qualified players. Josh Wells will likely get the start in Smith’s absence.
There is some good news to pass along, however. Specialists Bradley Pinion, Ryan Succop, and Zach Triner, who all found themselves on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week, have been activated. According to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, one of those three players tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week, and the other two were placed on the list as close contacts. However, it appears that the positive test was a false one.
In order to guard against the possibility of losing their primary punter, kicker, and long snapper, the Bucs brought in free agent P Dustin Colquitt, K Brett Maher, and LS Garrison Sanborn for visits, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets. It doesn’t sound like there is a need to sign those players now, but Tampa may be keeping them on speed dial just in case.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.