Buccaneers Rookie Starter Makes Appearance on Injury Report Ahead of Week 1

Todd Bowles

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers shared good news and bad news on the injury report ahead of their 2023 season opener on September 10 against the Minnesota Vikings.

First-round rookie defensive lineman Calijah Kancey returned to practice on September 7 for the first time since July 30, but rookie offensive lineman Cody Mauch showed up on the injury report with a back issue, the team announced.

Mauch was expected to be the starting right guard for the Buccaneers’ revamped offense, but now he will be a game-time decision, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times.

“He’s got spasms right now, so we’ll see how he feels on Sunday,” head coach Todd Bowles told reporters. “I don’t know how that’s going to be. It didn’t happen playing football. He bent over in his stance, and he went down.”

Who Steps Up If Cody Mauch Misses Week 1?

Mauch missed practice on September 8 for the second straight day.

The big question is who will step up if Mauch is forced to miss the opener. Bowles told reporters on September 8 that Aaron Stinnie, who last appeared in a game for the Buccaneers in 2021, would “probably” start in Mauch’s place. Stinnie spent all of 2022 on the injured reserve list and re-signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in March 2023.

Also on the Tampa Bay depth chart is Nick Leverett, who is listed behind Mauch, and Matt Feiler, who is listed as starting left guard.

“It would be a tough break for the Bucs, who hoped to get all five starting offensive linemen on the field together to at least start the season,” Stroud wrote.

With Baker Mayfield as the starting quarterback, there is a chance the Buccaneers run the ball a lot.

According to Sports Illustrated’s J.C. Allen, dominating the line of scrimmage is one of the Bucs’ keys to winning the game. However, having to do that without Mauch blocking up front could make things even more difficult.

“On offense getting push in the run game will be critical as Tampa Bay tries to establish themselves as a run-first team,” Allen wrote in a story published September 8. “The new offensive scheme should make their job easier, but the right side of the line will be the ones to watch from an execution standpoint.”

Cody Mauch Was a Star at North Dakota State

Mauch, who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 303 pounds, was selected in the second round of the 2023 NFL draft. The 24-year-old was a three-time FCS champion at North Dakota State and an FCS All-American in his final collegiate season.

However, Mauch had an up-and-down preseason, according to A to Z Sports.

Mauch “experienced an inconsistent preseason with both positive and negative moments,” according to A to Z Sports’ Parker Moseley. “Notably, he demonstrated his potential to execute impactful run blocks that led to explosive plays. While he generally displayed solid pass protection skills, there’s room for improvement in his pad level and hand placement.”

The other Buccaneers on the injury report are as follows: Kaevon Merriweather, Anthony Nelson, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Antoine Winfield Jr. and Kancey. However, Vaughn’s absence was not injury-related, and questions have swirled on his status with the team as he could enter the year on the outside looking in at the running back position.

The Vikings injury report has just two players on it: Troy Dye and Ryan Wright.

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