Thursday, Nov. 15
Injury update, 7:45 p.m.
It only took Bucs head coach Jon Gruden a few days to get tired of talking about injuries.
“It’s as is, as the (injury) list says,” Gruden said. “I’m really tired of talking about the injured guys. I’d rather talk about the guys we know are playing. Those are the guys we’re going to count on to win the football game. These limited guys are limited guys, and hopefully we get some guys that can play at some point soon.”
Well, coach, if you want to stop talking about it, I suggest you remove some of those players from the injury report. The Bucs did that today, as LB Quincy Black, DE Patrick Chukwurah and WR Ike Hilliard were upgraded and fully participated in practice, signaling they should be ready for Sunday. The Bucs also added FB B.J. Askew to the report with an ankle injury that I have to believe is pretty minor.
For the Falcons, it’s looking more and more likely that WR Joe Horn won’t play, as he sat out practice a second straight day. And TE Alge Crumper practiced in a limited fashion.
Here is the injury report for Thursday — Bucs: Did not participate in practice — DE Greg Spires (calf); Limited participation in practice — FB B.J. Askew (ankle), WR Michael Clayton (ankle), RB Earnest Graham (ankle), RB Michael Pittman (ankle), TE Alex Smith (ankle), T Jeremy Trueblood (shoulder); Full participation in practice — LB Quincy Black (hamstring), DE Patrick Chuwkurah (shoulder), WR Ike Hilliard (calf). Falcons: Did not participate in practice — WR Joe Horn (hamstring); Limited participation in practice — TE Alge Crumpler (team decision), QB Byron Leftwich (ankle), DT Trey Lewis (shoulder), RB Jerious Norwood (ankle), T Todd Weiner (knee).
To read Jon Gruden’s entire Thursday press conference, click here to access this premium feature.
Talking with Keiwan, 7:42 p.m.
I had the chance to talk one-on-one with new cornerback Keiwan Ratliff on Wednesday and got the low down on the tryout process in the NFL. You’d be surprised at how short the workouts are. You can also find out why this Florida product is so happy to be in Tampa Bay in this premium “Press Pass” feature.
Pro Bowl voting continues, 3:48 p.m.
I just got done looking at the top vote-getters for the Pro Bowl, and there isn’t a Buc among them. Not in the Top 10 overall, not in the Top 10 in the NFC and not among the leading vote-getters at each position. As you might expect, the Cowboys are dominating the voting. If the voting ended today, 10 Cowboys would be first-teamers based on fan voting. I think there are a few Bucs that definitely deserve consideration, including QB Jeff Garcia, MLB Barrett Ruud and SS Jermaine Phillips. But it’s likely that any Buc that makes the Pro Bowl this year will make it as a backup.
Audio update, 11:42 a.m.
I’ve just uploaded my archived audio with WHBO-AM’s Scot Brantley for the last two Tuesday. Each Tuesday I speak with Brantley on Tampa’s ESPN radio affiliate about the Bucs. If you’re a premium subscriber, you can access the last two appearances from Nov. 6 and Nov. 13 right now. It’s a great way to get updated on the game. You can also listed to my appearances by tuning in to 1470 AM in Tampa and Clearwater from 3-6 p.m. every Tuesday.
At Bucsblitz.com, 9:30 a.m.
Two things you should take a look at if you’re preparing for Sunday’s game as a fan. First, the expected return of Michael Pittman should have an impact on the running game. But just how much of an impact? I try to explore that issue, along with how the running game has progressed during Pittman’s absence, in this premium feature. Then, go behind enemy lines in Atlanta to find out why there’s a quarterback quandary despite Joey Harrington’s play. Plus get updated injury news, strategy and key matchups in our weekly “Behind Enemy Lines” series. Click here to read this premium feature. And if you missed it, here’s what quarterback Jeff Garcia had to say about those pesky sore arm rumors Click here to read.
Mock Draft update, 8:47 a.m.
Scout.com’s Chris Steuber has updated his 2008 NFL Mock Draft, dropping the Bucs three spots to No. 19. Find out who he thinks the Bucs will take now at profootballexperts.scout.com.
Rice back with Dungy, 8:45 a.m.
With Dwight Freeney out for the season, the Colts signed Simeon Rice earlier this week to replace him. Rice did nothing in his short time in Denver, and it’s looking like the Bucs actually made the right choice releasing the veteran. Read more on Rice at KKTV.com.
Sources link Lehr to steroid case, 8:43 a.m.
Backup guard Matt Lehr has been linked to a steroid probe going on in North Texas involving a Plano, Texas, trainer. Lehr used to play for the Cowboys, and was suspended by the NFL for violation of its banned substance policy during his days in Atlanta. Read more at Dallasnews.com.
Gassed Graham, 8:40 a.m.
Earnest Graham could use some help, and he should get it this week with the return of Micahel Pittman. Graham talks about his increased workload in this article at Tampabay.com.
Giving it up on the road, 8:39 a.m.
Looking for a reason why the Bucs are only a game ahead in the NFC South? Try their 1-3 road record and some ill-timed turnovers. Roy Cummings explores that issue at TBO.com.
Playing the speculation game, 8:37 a.m.
Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune explores two issues. First, he’s wondering if the emergence of Derek Anderson in Cleveland may allow the Bucs to potentially acquire backup Brady Quinn in trade. Second, he’s wondering why Jeff Garcia isn’t involved in the MVP discussion. Find out what he has to say in this blog entry at TBO.com.
He’s not there, 8:35 a.m.
It’s beginning to hit everyone this week that Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick is no longer on the field. That could make the Falcons easier to defend. But it doesn’t mean the deposed QB isn’t on the mind of some Bucs, including linebacker Derrick Brooks. The Tampa Tribune’s Martin Fennelly explores that in this article at TBO.com.