Jeff Tedford might miss Buccaneers' opener

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Jeff Tedford has long pointed to Week 1 as the launch point for a Buccaneers offense wrapped in mystery, but Tampa Bay might not have its play-caller on hand for Sunday's meeting with the Carolina Panthers.

After Tedford, 52, was hospitalized last week following an undisclosed surgical procedure, the team is preparing as if its first-year offensive coordinator won't be ready for the game, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Coach Lovie Smith told reporters Monday that Tedford is working part-time from home to help the Bucs cook up a game plan against Carolina's top-billed front seven. If he can't be there in person on Sunday, play-calling duties will fall to the untested Marcus Arroyo, Tampa's quarterbacks coach who has yet to call an NFL play and, at age 34, is a year younger than starting quarterback Josh McCown.

"Obviously, Jeff's been leading our offense through the whole offseason, so any time you take a piece away, there can be some disruption," McCown said Monday. "But the coaches seem like they are, so far, doing a great job picking up the slack and doing what we need to do."

Tampa's uneven offense was harassed all August. While McCown boasted an impressive 74.1 completion percentage over four preseason tilts, his passer rating plummeted from 109.1 to 40.5 under pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Bucs hope that newly-acquired guard Logan Mankins will improve a line that saw McCown take four sacks in just 36 dropbacks.

If Tampa's quilt of mediocre blockers can't hold off Carolina's angry pass rush, it won't matter who's calling the plays.

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