The Bucs have been very efficient when it comes to avoiding injury over the last two years. Sure, they’ve had some guys go down, but it’s nothing compared to what NFL teams usually have to deal with.
A lot of it has to do with the methods that Bruce Arians and co. employ at One Buc Place, as he described Saturday.
“A ton. We were one of the [least] injured teams in the league last year because we have such a great group over there, and I listen to them,” Arians said when asked about how Sports Science has evolved the way he approaches dealing with the health of his players. “It takes a long time to learn how to listen to people. We had a great group in Arizona and heat issues and all those things too, but some injuries they’re going to happen. There were very few soft tissue injuries and things that we had last year strictly due to what they do and how we train.”
Per Football Outsiders, the Bucs have finished in the top-2 in terms of Adjusted Games Lost over the last two seasons. For those unfamiliar with AGL, you can check out the full context, here. It essentially tallies up the amount of individual games lost to injury -or if a player is playing injured- per player. For example, Vita Vea counted 10 games last season.
Despite Tampa Bay’s good health, there were some major contributors that suffered some pretty major injuries in 2020. And many are still wondering about said contributors. Primarily O.J. Howard, Jordan Whitehead, and Alex Cappa.
Arians was asked about all three players on Saturday and each report was optimistic.
“He’s really close now,” Arians said when asked about Howard. “He looks fantastic working out every day.”
This is a step up from Arians’ statement back in March that said Howard is “real close” to returning to the Bucs. Arians said he couldn’t see any kind of setback then and it looks to be the same message now.
It was essentially the same message for Cappa, who is doing very well himself, according to Arians.
“I haven’t seen Cap,” Arians told reporters Saturday. “He’ll be in soon, but from what I’m hearing he’s working out really, really well and doing well. I see O.J. every day.
Arians was unsure if Cappa would be ready for the team’s mandatory mini-camp in the coming weeks, however.
“I can’t answer that right now,” Arians said. “I can say there’s a real good chance, [but] I can’t swear to it.”
And then of course, our own Joshua C. Allen had to ask about Whitehead’s status and if he, like Cappa, would be ready for the mandatory mini-camp.
“I don’t know if I’ll let him go, but he’s looking really good,” Arians said.
All three injuries take time, so this waiting process is completely normal. All three sound like they should be ready for training camp, at worst. Everything will be fine long as they’re good to go by then.
Regardless, the Bucs are getting healthier. And no one outside of Tampa Bay wants to hear that.