Smith Held Out Of Practice
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the practice field at One Buccaneer Place Wednesday in preparation for their next opponent - the New England Patriots.
The Bucs practiced without several players, including return specialist Clifton Smith, who sustained a concussion in Tampa Bay's 28-21 loss to Carolina due to a cheap shot by Panthers cornerback Dante Wesley, who was suspended one game without pay for the incident.
"He was at practice today, he just didn't participate," Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said of Smith. "He's in the building and he's walking around. When I saw him after the game he was up and about. We'll have to see where he is tomorrow and the next day."
Should Smith, a 2008 Pro Bowl return specialist, not be able to play Sunday, Bucs rookie wide receiver Sammie Stroughter would field punts and kickoffs during Tampa Bay's game vs. New England.
Stroughter was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Wednesday for his 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in place of Smith last Sunday.
Smith wasn't the only player held out of practice Wednesday. Bucs defensive tackle Chris Hovan (ankle) also missed the workout. Should he not be able to play, Bucs rookie defensive tackle Roy Miller would start in his place.
Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton (hamstring), middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (elbow) and DT Ryan Sims (hand) were limited in Wednesday's practice.
New England has its fair share of injuries heading into Sunday's matchup with Tampa Bay.
Patriots ornerback Darius Butler (ankle), wide receiver Julian Edleman (forearm), tackle Matt Light (knee), running back Sammy Morris (running back) and RB Fred Taylor (ankle) were held out of Wednesday's practice in New England.
New England guard Stephen Neal (not injury related), safety James Sanders (shoulder) and defensive back Shawn Springs (knee) were limited.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder), defensive end Jarvis Green (knee), tackle Nick Kaczur (ankle), linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee), wide receiver Randy Moss (shoulder), WR Wes Welker (knee) and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (ankle) had full participation in practice.
Bucs Claim G Murphy Off Waivers
Tampa Bay filled the open roster spot created by FB B.J. Askew by claiming guard Shawn Murphy off waivers from the Miami Dolphins Wednesday.
A fourth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Murphy was released by the Dolphins on Oct. 21. He played collegiately at Utah State.
Bucs Leave For London Friday
The 0-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have adjusted their practice schedule this week due to their upcoming game against the 4-2 New England Patriots, which will be played at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday.
The Bucs will travel to London Friday, which typically is a heavy red zone practice day at One Buccaneer Place.
Tampa Bay certainly needs time to prepare for New England, which defeated Tennessee last Sunday, 59-0, and leaves for London one day before the Bucs.
However, Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris said the Bucs would still get a full week of practice in, red zone periods included, despite having to travel overseas during the week.
"We chose to move on with a regular Wednesday and Thursday practice," said Morris. "Really the day we miss will be the Saturday walk-thru. Our Friday practice will now be our Saturday walk-thru. We'll basically miss that extra preparation time.
"Usually you get a clean-up day, that's what we're missing. You lose that Saturday, but you we'll get a little extra time in the hotel and a little extra time to meet. We'll make up that time. It will be less walk-thru and more classroom."
Tampa Bay and New England will clash at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Tragedy Hits One Buccaneer Place
Tampa Bay has lost six games this season, but none of them compare to the loss the Bucs organization recently suffered.
Jay Campbell, who worked in the team's radio sales department for six years, passed away on Tuesday night.
Flags outside One Buccaneer Place flew at half mast Wednesday as a result of Campbell's passing, which was unexpected.
"Our thoughts and prayers are out to Jay's wife, his daughter and his family and friends," said Bucs general manager Mark Dominik. "He died suddenly, so this is a tough one for us."
Graham Ready To Take On Full-Time Role As Fullback
With B.J. Askew out for the season, the Buccaneers have turned to running back Earnest Graham to fill in at fullback on a full-time basis.
Graham, who has seen limited action as a running back this season, has played fullback for the Bucs before. He took on that role last year due to injuries at the fullback position, and did so again during Tampa Bay's 28-21 loss to Carolina on Sunday.
In fact, former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and his coaching staff considered moving Graham to fullback on a full-time basis when they met in January just before Gruden and other staff members were fired.
Graham said he's comfortable playing fullback, tailback, special teams and wherever else he's needed.
"It's nothing new, really," said Graham. "I've played the position. I've played the position well, so it's what I've been doing."
Graham will help lead block for Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay's leader rusher, and RB Derrick Ward.
"He went out there Sunday and provided us with great pop and leadership," said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. "He was hunting people out and he was physical and violent. Anytime you get a chance to get a guy like Earnest Graham on the football field, that's what it's about. He's an overachiever and undrafted free agent. He came here and got cut three times and fought his way through it to become the starting running back and get work at fullback. No one has ever heard Earnest Graham complain or do anything but give his best effort to play football."
Askew was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list Tuesday after being involved in a three-car accident on the morning of Oct. 12. He sustained a neck/back injury and didn't practice last week.
Quote of the Day
Bucs defensive coordinator Jim Bates on why defensive end Gaines Adams wasn’t able to have a breakout year in this defense while many other defensive ends have been able to do that.
“Well you know it is interesting you can go back through the years. Trace Armstrong had his career year. Adewale Ogunleye had 16.5, 17 sacks. It has been a history with defensive ends. You can’t say we gave up on Gaines too early. We traded him. It was just a feel that we could get something for Gaines, and it would be better in the future for us as a football team. Now he still is a good athlete. He made some good things happen. He plays the run better than most people give him credit for. He had the one good football game.
“But we were looking for the consistency. It was a major decision made as far as what is the best for us moving forward. Not that Gaines can’t be a good football player, he’s still a young man. He’s only been in the league for three years, and we wish him well. He was trying. It wasn’t a lack of effort. [Defensive line coach] Todd [Wash] did a great job with him as far as working with the defensive ends. We just want to wish him well. It was a decision at this time that we felt was the best for our football team to move forward, give Gaines an opportunity. “