Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 first-round draft pick Calijah Kancey was carted off the field at training camp Sunday morning with a right leg injury. After practice, head coach Todd Bowls told reporters the 22-year-old was diagnosed with a calf strain and will undergo an MRI.
Video footage shows Kancey pulling up during a drill early in the practice. He attempted to hop away on the other leg before grabbing his calf area and letting out a pained expletive.
This was Tampa Bay’s first practice in pads this preseason but Kancey, selected 19th overall in this year’s draft, was already getting rave reviews from members of the organization.
“The number of ‘wow’ plays that he had in shorts was more than I was even expecting,” general manager Jason Licht said regarding Kancey’s training camp performance, via ESPN. “That doesn’t necessarily always translate to making a bunch of plays in the NFL his rookie season — I’m not saying that he’s going to for sure be an All-Pro his first year or anything like that. But seeing this defense kind of mold into what Todd [Bowles] really does like in that explosive, penetrating front that can get pressure up the middle, as well as off the edge, with all the tools that we have with Devin [White] and Lavonte [David], it’s going to be exciting, that’s for sure.”
Running back Rachaad White also praised Kancey, hailing him as “explosive” and “quick.”
Kancey showed his speed during the combine in March, when he clocked a 4.67. The time made him the fastest defensive tackle in combine history since NFL Network officially started logging combine measurements in 2003. At 281 pounds, he’s also the record holder for anybody weighing in at 280-plus pounds.
The showing led some to compare him to Aaron Donald, a fellow Pittsburgh alum. During Kancey’s time at Pitt, he recorded 91 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, one forced fumble, and three pass deflections.
At the end of his college career, he was named unanimous All-American. He also earned the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award.