- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Dietrich-Smith missed Sunday’s 14-13 loss to Cincinnati due to flu-like symptoms. In a classic case of not knowing what you have until it’s gone, Dietrich-Smith’s absence turned out to be very costly for the Bucs.
Replacement Garrett Gilkey was called for four penalties and had two errant snaps in the shotgun formation. But the good news is that Gilkey’s stint as the starting center was only one game.
Dietrich-Smith said he is healthy again after being sick for a full week.
“I’m good," Dietrich-Smith said. “I’m doing better. I’m alive. Nobody really saw me for the past week, but I’m good. I’ll be all right."
Dietrich-Smith said he fully expects to play in Sunday’s game at Detroit.
“Definitely," he said. “I’m here. I’ll be all right. I’ll be out there."
Dietrich-Smith said sitting out the Cincinnati game was difficult.
“I definitely felt like I could have helped if I played," he said. “But I was really in no way, shape or form able to do that. Physically, it wasn’t going to happen. I really couldn’t help anybody last week, except for myself getting in and out of bed."
Gilkey’s performance has drawn outrage from fans because he had never played center in a game at any level. Gilkey normally plays guard. But quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who is the acting offensive coordinator, defended the decision to start Gilkey. The Bucs had promoted Josh Allen, who has played center in the past, from the practice squad but elected not to play him.
“Garrett had been working that position at center as a backup since we’ve been here and since we’ve had him," Arroyo said. “Going into that game, he was the guy to go in and do it. Not the way maybe he wanted it to go. It’s unfortunate we had some of those things. I think anyone on our roster can look back on their first start, coaches included, and say I wish I had something back. I think that he understands what things can hurt us. Whoever you pick to play that position really is going to be in-house. Our decision to go with Garrett was we’ve had camp with him and what he’s done."
Perhaps the most positive sight of Wednesday's open locker room for the Buccaneers was the presence of center Evan Dietrich-Smith at his locker.