Lovie Smith hopes bye week benefits group of banged-up Bucs

TAMPA, Fla. -- With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading into their bye week, coach Lovie Smith is eager for the chance for his team to heal.

Left guard Logan Mankins' streak of 40 consecutive games played ended Sunday because of a groin injury. Safeties Chris Conte (ankle) and Keith Tandy (knee) were injured in Tampa Bay's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, though Smith is hopeful rest will help both players.

"Don't know the extent of the injury right now," Smith said Monday of Conte and Tandy. "Don't think it's that bad. But having a couple weeks before we play, hopefully we'll have all of them ready."

There are others who will benefit from the time off. Cornerback Johnthan Banks (knee) hasn't played since Week 3. Center Evan Smith (ankle) has been absent since sustaining his injury in Week 2. Wide receiver Russell Shepard (hamstring) and tight end Luke Stocker (hip) have missed the past two games.

Lovie Smith said Monday that tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns through the season's first two weeks, could return from a shoulder injury when the Bucs face the Washington Redskins in Week 7.

"We hope so," Smith said of Seferian-Jenkins. "Just know he's doing everything we're asking him to do. He's really been engaged from the sideline, being involved, doing everything he can. .. When we get Luke Stocker back also, that should help a lot too."

Offensive tackle Demar Dotson is closer to returning. On Sept. 7, the Bucs placed Dotson on the injured reserve/designated for return list because of a sprained right knee. He'll be eligible to play again when Tampa Bay hosts the New York Giants in Week 9.

In addition, defensive tackle Akeem Spence, who was placed on the reserved/physically unable to perform list on Sept. 1 with a back injury, will be eligible to return to practice next week. He could debut against Washington.

"Demar Dotson, Akeem Spence, we have other players coming," Smith said. "But we had a few offensive guys [out] yesterday. ... So we'll need those guys for our next push."