Garcia almost certain to start on Sunday

Brian Griese (Associated Press)

With Brian Griese recovering from his injuries from Week 5 against Denver, Jeff Garcia has practiced the past two days and seems almost certain to start against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Plus, link to exclusive Bucsblitz.com content previewing this game.

This week's big clash between the Buccaneers and the Panthers has everyone talking. Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins and Panthersinsider.com's Brad Thomas are examining the game from every angle. Today, it's Behind Enemy Lines Part I, as Postins clues Thomas and Panthers fans in on what's going on at One Buc Place. Read Part I by clicking here.

The roulette wheel of quarterbacks keeps spinning in Tampa Bay.

With starter Brian Griese unable to throw a football because of a sore elbow and shoulder, Garcia is almost certain to get the start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

"For me, it's an exciting time because I feel like there's an opportunity that might be presented there," Garcia said. "I just want to be able to get back in and be the guy that I was for this team last year, the guy I feel I'm capable of being. And if I'm given that opportunity, hopefully I can run with it and make the most out of it."

Griese said the MRI revealed no structural damage from the hit he sustained in Sunday's 16-13 loss at Denver during a third quarter blitz by cornerback Champ Bailey.

"I haven't tried to throw and I don't expect to try (Wednesday), Griese said."I'll continue to get the treatment on it and then later in the week address that.

"I couldn't give you a percentage (of playing)."

Following practice Wednesday, Gruden all but confirmed Garcia would be the starter with Luke McCown the probable backup.

"You know what? If you can't throw, you have a hard time playing," Gruden said of Griese. "Again, I don't want to make any concrete statements until we get a chance to meet and see how Brian is and how Jeff feels and the whole crew of quarterbacks."

Last Sunday, Garcia shook off the rust after two failed drives and marched the Bucs 90-yards for the Bucs' only touchdown, completing seven passes in the process.

He said he has put to rest all the negative events that have occurred - the lost play-time incentive, the flirtation with Brett Favre and the benching.

"If given the opportunity, I want to battle for this team," Garcia said. "I want to give them everything I have to give. I want to have that same electricity, that same enthusiasm that I played with last year. I'm not going to focus on any of the things that have taken place in the last six months. That's all negative energy. I don't need that energy within myself and I just want to create a positive situation here."

Looking back, Garcia said his mobility was severely limited by the array of injuries.

"I'm a lot more healthy at this time," Garcia said. "I'm not favoring anything. I feel like the speed is back, the explosion within the pocket, the mobility within the pocket, so those things are definitely better than they were going into the first week. Not to say that was an excuse because it wasn't. But when you haven't practiced a whole lot and you're coming off an injury, you haven't been able to work on your explosion like normally.

"I found that when I watched the film of that New Orleans game, there were opportunities where I had chances to run and just didn't have that explosion or getaway that I normally have had in the past. So I feel like that's back for me.''

That will come in handy Sunday against the Carolina Panthers' defense, which has not allowed a touchdown in nine quarters.

"I think mobility is an asset," Gruden said. "Let's be honest, (Jay) Cutler makes two great scrambles and wins them the game last week. It changes the field position. Third-and-12, he gets a first down by himself. To keep the ball alive and maybe get down the field, your mobility often times allows you to do that."

While the Bucs stood pat - except for the addition of center Jeff Faine - the Panthers got better in the off-season.

"They have DeAngelo (Williams), who's more of a zone-cutback type, a little bit more of a fast-twitch runner," Gruden said. "And then you've got the kid at 235, Jonathan Stewart, who's a pounder. They love to run it between the tackles with him and it takes about two or three guys to get him down. So capping off and getting to the ball becomes huge this week. We need to see four or five hats on this kid this week."

Defensively, the Bucs simply have to stop Williams and Stewart.

"I think it starts with the defensive line setting a new line of scrimmage, we want a chance for our linebackers to be free," DT Chris Hovan said. "If we can take one for two, take up two offensive linemen, or get a fullback, and let our linebackers be free because we have three of the best in the business and if they are one-on-one in the hole with the back they are making the tackle. We need to occupy blockers, set a new line of scrimmage and when we hit we really have to impose our will."

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