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December 25, 2009 @ 12:45 pm
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Several Bucs Players Questionable For Saints Game

Written by Jim
Flynn
Jim Flynn

Jim
Flynn

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The Bucs are banged up heading into their contest against their NFC South division rival - the New Orleans Saints. Several Bucs players are questionable for Sunday's contest, including C Jeff Faine, WRs Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton, S Tanard Jackson and RB Derrick Ward.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held practice late Friday in order to allow their coaches and players to spend time with their families on Christmas morning.

Despite changing the practice schedule on Christmas Day, the players apparently were focused on the task at hand - the 13-1 New Orleans Saints, whom the 2-12 Bucs take on in New Orleans on Sunday.

"They had a good practice," said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris, who was named the Monte Kiffin's successor as defensive coordinator one year ago today. "They had the early part of the day to spend with the families, came in here and we got our job done and now they're able to go back and enjoy their families again. It was nice to come in enjoy each other here a little bit as well."

The Bucs are a bit banged up heading into Sunday's contest. Several players are listed as questionable for the game in New Orleans, including wide receivers Antonio Bryant (groin) and Michael Clayton (knee), safety Tanard Jackson (knee), center Jeff Faine (elbow) and running back Derrick Ward (knee).

Although they technically have a 50 percent chance of playing vs. the Saints, Morris seemed encouraged by the fact that all of Tampa Bay's injured players practiced Friday.

"A lot of those guys practiced out here today and gave us effort, so we'll go day-to-day and get to the game and see where they are," said Morris.

Bryant had full participation Friday, and Clayton practiced for the third consecutive day after missing three straight games with a knee ailment. However, the receiver position still is cause for concern since both of the team's starters are listed as questionable.

"You have to rely on your guys and go with Maurice Stovall and Brian Clark and those guys," said Morris. "Those guys would get a chance to go [if Bryant and/or Clayton can't play]. If those can't go the next guys in line must step up."

Faine's injury is also a concern since the Bucs likely will attempt to run the football early and often in an effort to move the chains, score points and keep the Saints' No. 1-ranked offense off the field as long as possible. Faine arguably is Tampa Bay's best offensive lineman.

Should Faine, who played for the Saints before joining the Bucs as a free agent in 2008, not be able to play Sunday, Morris said the team had some contingency plans in place.

"We've got a couple of options there," Morris said of the center position. "We've got Zuttah, who can play center. We have [rookie Jonathan] Compas there. Sean Murphy can play some interior O-line for you. We've got some options there, but Compas has been getting most of the reps there and would be our most valuable option if Faine can't go."

Ward was added to Tampa Bay's injury report Friday with "soreness" in his knee. He was limited during the Christmas Day workout.

Bucs tight ends Kellen Winslow (knee) and Jon Gilmore (illness) were listed as probably on Tampa Bay's injury report Friday.

The Saints have their fair share of injuries heading into Sunday's game as well.

New Orleans WR Lance Moore (ankle) and S Usama Young (hip/abdomen) have been ruled out.

Saints CB Randall Gay (concussion), LB Scott Shanle (concussion), S Darren Sharper (knee), DT Sedrick Ellis (knee), CB Jabari Greer (groin) and TE Jeremy Shockey are questionable for Sunday's game in New Orleans.

New Orleans RB Reggie Bush (hamstring), T Jermon Bushrod (thumb), TE Darnell Dinkins (foot), G Jahri Evans (toe), LB Scott Fujita (knee), C Jonathan Goodwin (ankle), DE Bobby McCray (back), T Jon Stinchcomb (knee) and LB Jonathan Vilma (knee) are probable.

The Bucs-Saints game will kick off in the Louisiana Superdome at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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