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Tampa Bay defensive end Patrick Chukwurah said during open locker room Wednesday that his right knee feels “good enough for me to go” this weekend against Carolina.
Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden didn’t have as much to say about the defensive end during his post-practice press conference, except that Chukwurah practiced fully for the first time since he suffered the injury.
Chukwurah partially tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee against Miami on Aug. 25, and is near the end of the standard six-week recovery period for the injury.
While he hasn’t played in any of the Buccaneers’ first three games this season, Chukwurah did practice in a limited fashion with the team last week.
If the six-year veteran can play on Sunday, it would bolster the defensive line rotation, one that has produced four of the Buccaneers’ five sacks so far this season.
Meanwhile, Gruden reported that defensive end Greg Spires (ankle) and cornerback Brian Kelly (groin) were limited in practice. Gruden indicated that Spires had a minor injury and that they were being cautious with Kelly, who started last Sunday after missing more than a week with a groin pull.
Wide receiver Joey Galloway and left tackle Luke Petitgout did not practice, but they are not hurt. Each has taken Wednesday off since the start of the regular season.
For the Panthers, guard Jeremy Bridges (toe), quarterback Jake Delhomme (elbow), linebacker Dan Morgan (ankle) and linebacker Adam Seward (calf) did not practice on Wednesday.
Backup quarterback David Carr took the reps for Delhomme on Wednesday, as well as speaking with Tampa-area reporters during the weekly conference call. Carr said he’s preparing as if he’ll start on Sunday, though no decision has been made yet.
“I probably know about as much as you guys, to tell you the truth,” Carr said. “I just go out and practice as if I’m going to play on Sunday and if I start, I start.”
Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker (toe) and tackle Travelle Wharton (toe) were limited on Wednesday.
NO CONVERSATION FOR CADDY: Running back Carnell Williams told reporters that he did not feel the need to speak to head coach Jon Gruden after Williams went to the bench after his fourth-quarter fumble on Sunday against St. Louis.
Gruden said on Monday that Williams’ benching was caused by a combination of the re-aggravation of his bruised ribs and the fumble.
“I know my place on this team,” Williams said. “I know where I stand.”
Gruden said on Monday that Williams would be the starter when the Bucs play the Panthers.
Williams said that he re-aggravated his bruised ribs when he fell awkwardly in the third quarter against the Rams. He said they were sore, but nothing more.
PISCITELLI DONE: Tampa Bay announced that they have placed S Sabby Piscitelli on the Injured Reserve list.
Piscitelli fractured his right foot during the Buccaneers’ 24-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. The recovery period for such an injury is 6-8 week, meaning Piscitelli likely wouldn’t be back on the roster until December.
By moving Piscitelli to injured reserve, the Buccaneers ended the Oregon State rookie’s season.
Piscitelli, a second-round selection (64th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft, played in all three games this season, posting two special teams tackles.
Additionally, the Buccaneers promoted WR Chad Lucas to the active roster from the practice squad, signed T Jason Capizzi and WR Micheal Spurlock to the practice squad and released C/G Enoka Lucas from the practice squad.
PLAYER NOTES (by Scout.com staff)
QB Jeff Garcia has won seven of his last eight regular season starts, dating back to last season with the Eagles.
QB Bruce Gradkowski will likely continue to serve as the Bucs' No. 2 QB because of his familiarity with the offense. Gradkowski has 11 NFL starts. Luke McCown has four NFL starts.
RB Earnest Graham says he doesn't expect to replace Cadillac Williams as the Bucs' feature back and is content to play special teams until called upon to run the ball.
WR Michael Clayton is off to another horrific start this season with just two receptions in three games, including a drop and a fumble.
WR Joey Galloway says he hopes the 182 yards rushing last week against the Rams will open up the vertical passing game.
LB Barrett Ruud leads the NFL with 35 tackles and has two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an INT.
PK Matt Bryant said he tweaked his knee during a field goal attempt against the Rams but is expected to play against the Panthers.
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.