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December 9, 2009 @ 1:30 pm
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Bucs WR Clayton Hopes To Play, Jets QB Sanchez Won't Start

Written by Jim
Jim Flynn


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Tampa Bay WR Michael Clayton (knee) missed Wednesday's practice, but hopes to play vs. the N.Y. Jets on Sunday. In other news, Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez (knee) will not start vs. the Bucs. Fourth-year QB Kellen Clemens will start in his place.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are fairly healthy heading into their home contest vs. the New York Jets, which is scheduled to kick off at Raymond James Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton, who missed last week's game in Carolina due to an MCL sprain, was held out of practice Wednesday. However, the former first-round pick believes his knee has made significant progress and hopes to practice Thursday and play vs. the Jets on Sunday.

"I'm taking it day-by-day. I may have a shot this week," said Clayton. "It's just an MCL strain. There's a lot of little things going on there, but there's no tears, so it's day-to-day.

"I can [practice], but I don't know if they want me to. I'll go tomorrow for sure. I'll have to get my two days in if I'm going to play. That's the schedule right now. It's a night and day difference. I couldn't even get around right after I did it. I hit a plateau for a few days, but over the last few days it's gotten a lot better. That's why I'm positive about possibly playing this week."

Bucs head coach Raheem Morris attempted to temper Clayton's enthusiasm for returning to the football field Wednesday.

"Clayton doesn't have a M.D. at the end of his name, and until he does our doctors will let Clayton know when he's ready to go," said Morris. "That goes the same for every player we have."

Should Clayton, who has 14 catches and one touchdown this season, not be able to play, Bucs WR Maurice Stovall would start in his place for the second straight week.

In addition to Clayton, Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) and cornerback Derrick Roberson (groin) were held out of Wednesday's practice with their respective ailments. Bucs linebacker Geno Hayes was limited due to a hamstring injury.

The most significant injury news in Sunday's matchup is on the Jets' roster, where rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez will not start vs. the Bucs due to a knee injury he sustained while diving for yardage against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.

Jets QB Kellen Clemens, 26, will start in the first-round pick's place on Sunday. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Clemens has started eight games in four seasons in the NFL, completing 51.7 percent of his passes for 1,569 yards and tossing five touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Tampa Bay won't prepare much differently with Clemens in the starting lineup. It is actually getting quite used to playing backup signal callers. In fact, Tampa Bay has faced backup quarterbacks two straight weeks in Atlanta (Chris Redman) and Carolina (Matt Moore). Sunday will be the third, and the Bucs hope it will be the charm since they lost the contests to the Falcons and Panthers.

The Bucs expect the Jets to come out and do what they do best, which is run the football. Behind former Bucs running back Thomas Jones, the Jets currently have the No. 1-ranked ground game in the NFL, which poses a challenge for Tampa Bay's 31st-ranked run defense.

"They're probably going to play the same game," said Morris. "Those two guys had a tough battle for the starting job, so I'm sure they're not going to change their game plan much. They are going to run the football of who is playing quarterback. We'll go upstairs and prepare and get ready for everything."

Sanchez (knee) and Jets guard Robert Turner (knee) didn't participate in practice Wednesday.

New York cornerback Marquice Cole (knee), defensive end Shaun Ellis (knee), linebacker Larry Izzo (neck), cornerback Dwight Lowery (ankle) and cornerback Donald Strickland (concussion) had limited participation in practice. Safety Jim Leonhard (thumb) and linebacker Calvin Pace (shoulder) had full participation.


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