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October 24, 2009 @ 5:14 am
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Morris Updates Injuries From London

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were forced to move their practice from Wembley Field to the ballroom of the London Intercontinental Hotel Saturday due to rain. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris updated the team's injuries, including return specialist Clifton Smith, who is questionable for Sunday's game in London.

LONDON - The Buccaneers came to London nearly as healthy as they've been all season.

With receiver Antonio Bryant finally getting a full week of practice in, and with rookie defensive end Kyle Moore on the verge of returning from left knee surgery, about the only decisions Coach Raheem Morris has to make regarding the 45-man roster for Sunday's game against the Patriots have to do with which players give the Bucs the chance to, as Morris likes to put it, be their "best self" at Wembley Stadium.

There is one concern, however. Pro Bowl kick returner Clifton Smith, knocked out last week on a cheap shot by Carolina's Dante Wesley, suffered a concussion and remains questionable for Sunday's game.

"Clifton suffered a pretty good hit last week," Morris said Saturday in the ballroom of the London Intercontinental Hotel. "You care about the safety of your players. You care about how your players are going to respond and all that type of stuff. We'll take our time with Clifton. I won't put him back on the field until he's ready and until our doctors say he's ready."

Smith practiced only once, Thursday, and was limited that day. Rookie Sammie Stroughter and recently signed receiver Yamon Figurs practiced returning kicks in Smith's absence.

Stroughter, who matched Smith's team record with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week after Smith got hurt, is expected to serve in that capacity again Sunday if Smith doesn't play.

Because rain forced the cancelation of the team's scheduled walkthrough Saturday at Wembley Stadium, the Bucs performed their walkthrough in the same ballroom where Morris and several players were interviewed earlier in the afternoon.

While walkthroughs generally don't tell much about a player's physical ability to compete in the upcoming game, a walkthrough in a ballroom certainly would tell even less, which means Smith's status this week will have less to do with any work he did during game preparation than it will the recommendation of the team's medical staff.


For his part, Smith insisted Thursday that he was ready to play. Morris wasn't so sure.

"Don't listen to Clifton Smith," Morris said. "You're talking about a guy that had a concussion."

Another roster decision that Morris is mulling is whether to activate recently signed defensive end Michael Bennett or the rookie Moore, a fourth-round draft pick out of Southern Cal.

Moore has practiced the past two weeks after sitting out three weeks following minor left knee surgery. There was a chance Moore might be activated last week, but Morris chose to wait at least one more game to get Moore back up to speed physically.

While Morris didn't tip his hand regarding the decision between Bennett and Moore, the coach did admit he's eager to see what the rookie can do.

"Let's just say Kyle Moore had his best practice weeks the last two weeks," Morris said. "So, he's excited. So, to answer your question, am I ready to see him play? Yes. Is he ready to go out there right now? We'll see."

Morris said no other players on the injury list should be held out of the game because of health.

Those players are defensive tackle Chris Hovan (ankle), probable; receiver Michael Clayton (hamstring), questionable; linebacker Barrett Ruud (elbow), probable; defensive tackle Ryan Sims (hand), probable; and cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring), probable).

New England, which generally makes liberal use of the injury list each week, had 17 players listed Friday. Of those, four are out: left tackle Matt Light (knee), receiver Julian Edelman (forearm), running back Sammy Morris (knee) and running back Fred Taylor (ankle).

The only players who are questionable for the Patriots are cornerback Darius Butler (ankle), defensive back Shawn Springs (knee) and backup offensive lineman Dan Donnolly (knee).

Carter Gaddis covers the Bucs for CBSSports.com.

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