The Raheem Morris “next man up” theory may be put to use again this week as Quincy Black was held out of practice Friday, suffering from an ankle/leg injury.
Black, one of the defensive captains, signed a 5-year, $29 million deal at the beginning of training camp, but has had a tough season thus far. Through the first four games the fifth-year linebacker has just 12 tackles and has played sparingly since the injury occurred against the Minnesota Vikings.
Morris acknowledged that Black would be a game-day decision Sunday at San Francisco and also commented on the Buccaneers' injury report.
“The only thing that you guys [would] probably be interested in is Quincy is struggling a little bit [and] didn’t go today,” Morris said. “He will be questionable and [we will] see where he is.
“Other than that, [we are] fairly healthy. Everybody else went out to practice. Kellen (Winslow) was back out today. (Aqib) Talib was back out practicing today and all those guys. [Tim] Crowder was out practicing today. Zac Diles is the guy that’s doubtful. Earnest [Graham] is fine [and] he practiced today. James Lee is still in the same situation -- Luke Stocker [and] Sammie [Stroughter] are [still in] the same situation.”
Morris doesn’t expect a drop off if Black cant go Sunday and said Dekoda Watson will be get the starting nod if need be.
“Last year I actually got the confidence [in Watson],” Morris said. “He had to go out there and start a bunch of games. Dekoda can go out there and play pretty much whatever at a high speed and a high level. He's a better game player ... he's fun to watch. Obviously, Dekoda will go if Quincy can’t.”
The second-year linebacker from Florida State is ready to go if his number is called.
“Yes sir, and I just want to make sure I take advantage of the opportunities that are given to me,” Watson said. “I just want to make sure I go in and don’t be a weak link in the chain or anything like that. I just want the team to move forward and play as if I were an original starter. I just want to go in there and do my best and be on my P’s and Q’s.”
Watson has been one of many bright spots on defense so far this season. A speed rusher who the Bucs employ primarily in their 3-3-5 Redskin package, Watson has five tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. The Aiken, S.C. native doesn’t think the short-week, west-coast issue will be too much to overcome.
“It could be, but at the same time we just need to worry about ourselves,” Watson said. “We need to just worry about going over there and trying to win. I could care less about Monday night or when we play. Football is football [and] this is what we get paid for. We get away games, so if we've got to play a game the next day after Sunday, we need to be able to play that and that's just our job."
“I think the thing that we've just got to focus on is really ourselves. Just make sure that we are on top of our game [and] make sure that we are on top of our assignments [and] mentally focused. We had a lot of penalties last week and we just want to come in here a lot more focused than what we were last week. We just continue to work on that, and if we work on that, everything else will fall into place.”