Brooks questionable for Sunday

Derrick Brooks (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks does not appear to be a lock to start at weak side linebacker this Sunday when the Bucs host Atlanta in their home opener. It would be nearly unprecedented for Brooks to not start a game for Tampa Bay.

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Ten-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks left Sunday's loss to New Orleans on Sunday and never returned.

That was disconcerting enough. But Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden revealed on Monday that Brooks has a hamstring issue and that he may not be available for Sunday's home opener against Atlanta.

How big would it be for Brooks to not start on Sunday? Well, the last time Brooks didn't start a game for Tampa Bay, Bill Clinton was in his first term as president, the original "90210" was still a big hit and the New York Yankees were changing managers from Buck Showalter to Joe Torre.

That was 1995, so it's been a while. Brooks' start against New Orleans was the 193rd straight of his illustrious career, most among active players. It was also the 206th start of his career, second only to Junior Seau among linebackers all-time.

Gruden acknowledged that on Monday morning no one knew the severity of the injury and considered Brooks questionable for the contest.

If Brooks can't go, the Bucs (0-1) have options. While second-year linebacker Adam Hayward is listed as Brooks' immediate backup, strong side linebacker Cato June could move into Brooks' spot on Sunday if the future Hall of Famer can't start. June has played some weak side linebacker on passing downs since he arrived last year.

If the Bucs chose to move June to weak side, then second-year linebacker Quincy Black would likely start on the strong side.

''We have the capability of moving people around a little bit,'' Gruden said.

Gruden also said that QB Jeff Garcia (ankle) and WR Maurice Stovall (neck) are questionable.


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