Conte is expected to require six weeks to recover from a torn PCL in his knee, which he sustained during Monday's 30-27 loss to the Steelers, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Schefter relays that Conte probably shouldn't have played in the contest, but the safety "gutted it out" for the team before bowing out after playing 11 snaps. The Buccaneers placed Conte on injured reserve Tuesday, which will keep him out of action for a minimum of eight weeks. Assuming Schefter's timeline is accurate, Conte should return to full health by the second half of the season and merit consideration for an activation from IR.
The Buccaneers placed Conte (knee) on injured reserve Tuesday. The roster move comes one day after Conte exited the first half of Monday's 30-27 loss to the Steelers with the knee injury. Adding insult to the injury, Conte was on the receiving end of a devastating stiff-arm from Pittsburgh tight end Vance McDonald, who sent the safety tumbling to the ground during his 75-yard catch-and-run for the game's first score. The loss of Conte, who had started the Buccaneers' first three games and accrued 14 tackles, leaves the team with only two healthy safeties in Justin Evans and Jordan Whitehead, who should both be slated for heavy snaps in Week 4 against the Bears. Conte, meanwhile, will miss the next two months after landing on IR, though head coach Dirk Koetter said the 29-year-old could be one of the two players the Buccaneers activate in the second half of the season, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
Conte is doubtful to return to Sunday's game against the Eagles due to a knee injury, Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official site reports. As long as Conte remains sidelined, the Buccaneers' will remain without their starting free safety. Second-year player Justin Evans stands to receive an increased defensive role if Conte is unable to return. The severity of the veteran's injury remains undisclosed, so expect an update on Conte's status after the conclusion of Sunday's game.
Conte intercepted a pass intended for DeSean Jackson in Thursday's "mock game" and recorded a pick during Wednesday's practice as well, Carmen Vitali of the team's official site reports. The veteran safety saw his team option exercised after the 2017 season, despite the secondary's overall struggles. He's opened camp in good form, and he still slots in as the starting strong safety as preseason approaches. However, Justin Evans (ankle), a 2017 second-round pick who posted 66 tackles, six passes defensed and three interceptions in his rookie year, figures to push Conte throughout the remainder of the summer.
Conte totaled 77 tackles (62 solo), three forced fumbles, one interception and eight passes defensed over 16 games in the 2017 season. The veteran safety's tackle total was the third-highest of his career, while the trio of forced fumbles was a personal best. Conte extended a career-long streak of notching at least one interception a season to seven campaigns as well, but he was also a pivotal part of a Buccaneers secondary that surrendered the most total passing yards (4,169) and yards per game (261) in 2017. On the books for a reasonable $2.25 million in 2018, Conte is a likely candidate to return, although the emergence of 2017 second-round pick Justin Evans and the likelihood that the team looks to upgrade the position overall in both free agency and the draft could certainly leave Conte with an uphill battle for playing time.