Not only will wide receiver Joe Jurevicius play in a game for the first time in nearly a year, but Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden said he will get the start Sunday when the Bucs host the Chicago Bears.
"He's been cleared to play and he's practiced well," Gruden said of Jurevicius, who has started 19 of the 79 games he's played in during his seven-year career. "We've had great conversations. We'll use Bill Schroeder in a capacity to help him out if he needs help. I think we're all ready to see Jurevicius play. This is his time, and he's the starter."
Tampa Bay's wide receiving corps have been depleted due to injuries suffered by several players, including Joey Galloway, Charles Lee and Edell Shepherd. Jurevicius will be the fourth Bucs receiver to start at the split-end (X) position this year.
"We might be able to break an NFL record for starters in seven games," Gruden said. "We've had four [at split end]. Some teams go four, five, ten years with the same guy. To have four in seven weeks is unheard of. But Galloway is getting better; hopefully for Kansas City he returns. It's great to have Joe back. We'd like to have all these men healthy at the same time and working together for a period of weeks, maybe even a period of months. Maybe a year, then maybe two."
Jurevicius, who until this week hadn't been able to practice at full speed since September 2003 due to a knee and back injury, has participated in all three workouts at One Buccaneer Place this week without suffering any setbacks.
While he was glad to announce that Jurevicius was starting, Gruden was not happy to report that the Bucs will be without three players -- WR Charles Lee, fullback Greg Comella and defensive tackle Ellis Wyms -- due to their respective injuries.
"Charles Lee won't play and Ellis Wyms will not play," Gruden said. "It looks like Greg Comella will be out of this game as well, for sure."
Gruden said Jameel Cook would start in place of Comella while the team activates defensive lineman Josh Savage and Corey Smith in an effort to help fill the void left by Wyms.
"We'll have to go with Jameel Cook, a guy we've gone with before," said Gruden. "We think he's a capable player. We think he can go out and get the job done. Comella is getting better and there's a good chance he'll be back sometime soon.
"Well, it's going to be a challenge when you lose two defensive tackles. That's a challenge for Josh, who's a big physical man who's practiced and played in there throughout the offseason. Certainly this week he's a physical guy who we think can go in and play and be a part of this rotation. Corey Smith's a guy who will be up and active, a guy who also will have to go inside and outside and play on special teams. And Dewayne White has had his moments, good and some very good snaps."
Jason Garrett will serve as Tampa Bay's third-string (emergency) quarterback while Brad Johnson serves as the number two signal caller behind Brian Griese. Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland (groin) and safety Dwight Smith (knee) were removed from the injury report Friday.
PewterReport.com has the Bucs-Bears injury report listed below.
BUCS-BEARS INJURY REPORT
QB Chris Simms (shoulder)
WR Joey Galloway (groin)
DT Ellis Wyms (shoulder)
FB Greg Comella (chest)
WR Charles Lee (knee)
C Olin Krautz (elbow)
LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring)
DT Alfonso Boone (knee)
FB Bryan Johnson (knee)
G Ruben Brown (knee)
DE Adewale Ogunleye (calf)
CB Charles Tillman (elbow)
S Bobby Gray (groin)
INJURY REPORT KEY:
Probable: Player has a 75 percent chance of playing.
Questionable: Player has a 50 percent chance of playing.
Doubtful: Player has a 25 percent chance of playing.
Out: Player will not play in game.
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