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Carnell Williams will start against Carolina on Sunday, Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden stated on Monday.
Williams left Sunday’s 24-3 win over St. Louis early in the fourth quarter after his fumble led to a Rams field goal.
The possession before that, Williams landed awkwardly on his back and appeared to re-aggravate the bruised ribs he suffered in the season opener.
Gruden said on Sunday that both were factors in putting Williams on the bench and using backup Earnest Graham down the stretch of Sunday’s victory. But it wasn’t enough for Gruden to contemplate a change in the starting lineup.
“Carnell is our featured back and we’ll try to do much better than we have against Carolina in the past running the ball,” Gruden said. “Cadillac will be the starting tailback and we’ll do everything we can to incorporate Earnest and Michael Pittman.”
Graham finished with 75 yards on eight carries, along with two fourth-quarter scores. Williams rushed 12 times for 46 yards and a third-quarter score, his third this season. As a team, the Bucs rushed for 182 yards.
But a day after rhetorically asking himself why Graham hadn’t played more, Gruden was noncommittal on what role the third-string back might play in future games.
“Earnest has been a key member of our special teams; he plays 18 to 20 snaps a game there,” Gruden said. “To be honest with you he hasn’t been given the opportunity to go out there and play from scrimmage very much, until yesterday. He has had some isolated shots here and there. Yesterday he did a good job. He did have a fumble in Seattle earlier in the year, as you know. He did capitalize yesterday and take advantage of his opportunity.”
On the injury front, rookie safety Sabby Piscitelli has a fracture in his right foot, which he suffered in the first quarter against the Rams. His prognosis is not yet known. Defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, according to Gruden, has “a chance” to play in this weekend’s game at Carolina.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.