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Bucs' Brent Grimes to miss preseason opener with leg gash

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes will not participate in the preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a leg injury, two league sources confirmed to ESPN.

Grimes suffered a deep gash on his right shin during practice Wednesday and was down on the field for several minutes as trainers tended to the leg. A cart came out to assist him. He was able to stand up on his own and gingerly stepped into the cart.

“It was a laceration,” coach Dirk Koetter said. “I think he got a spike. It was kind of a nasty-looking laceration on his shin. I think he’ll be fine.”

General manager Jason Licht later told Sirius XM NFL radio: “My heart jumped out of my chest there. I couldn’t tell from the angle where I was. I just saw him holding his leg, which is never usually good.”

“I think we had to give him quite a few stitches,” Licht said. “We’ll take it easy on him here for a few days, let him heal up. You hate to even see that, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Grimes led the NFL with 17 pass breakups last season. Despite being 34, he has had one of the strongest training camps of any Bucs player, intercepting Jameis Winston and breaking up multiple passes intended for DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans.

“He’s special,” defensive coordinator Mike Smith said. “Brent is a guy that is going to play as long as he wants to play. Look at where he’s at right now. He doesn’t look like he’s on the back side of his career.”

There is the possibility Grimes could miss the entire preseason. It would afford the Bucs more of an opportunity to evaluate younger players.

Second-year cornerback Ryan Smith, who had moved to safety last year before converting back to corner this year, is expected to handle a bigger workload Friday.

Veteran Robert McClain and Javien Elliott, who have both lined up at nickelback and outside, also could see more work, and the team is eager to see undrafted free-agent rookie Maurice Fleming.

Jude Adjei-Barimah, who is behind the team’s other starter, Vernon Hargreaves III, on the depth chart, suffered a fractured patella in his right knee and will not play.