It has been more than two months since SLB Quincy Black went down with a career-threatening shoulder injury, yet the Buccaneers still have no idea whether Black will ever play for them again.
Doctors have been waiting for the damaged nerves in Black’s left shoulder to heal on their own, but since that process has not moved as quickly as hoped, Black will have surgery at the end of January to expedite it.
"The doctors were waiting to see how much re-growth happened naturally, and this (surgery) is supposed to help promote that growth," Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said Tuesday.
Black went down during the Bucs’ 34-24 victory against the Chargers in Week 10, suffering an injury that briefly left him hospitalized and has endangered his career. Dominik said he and coach Greg Schiano recently met with Bucs medical officials and learned that all the players injured during the 2012 season are recovering at a pace that should allow them to return at 100 percent in 2013.
In addition to Black the Bucs also lost starting Pro Bowl Gs Carl Nicks (toe) and Davin Joseph (knee) and starting RDE Adrian Clayborn (knee) to season-ending injuries this year.
The Bucs also had key reserves such as WR Arrelious Benn (knee), S Cody Grimm (hamstring) and RT Jeremy Trueblood land on injured reserve, bringing to more than $30 million the value of players on IR this season.
The Bucs didn’t even have a head coach at this time last year, so the fact they are still conducting interviews for at least one of the two openings left on Schiano’s staff doesn’t concern Dominik.
In fact, Dominik says the team is far ahead of the pace it was on last offseason, when critical evaluations of players didn’t begin until sometime in February.
"We’ve been a lot more football focused this year than last," Dominik said. "We’ve been able to do a lot more evaluations of our football team whereas last year we didn’t have that opportunity.
"I mean, Coach Schiano is actually here at the Senior Bowl this year whereas last year he wasn’t even hired yet. So there’s a lot more evaluations going on, not only internally but with how we’re going to fix the football team and get better."