Bucs tight end Alex Smith missed practice for the third consecutive day with an ankle injury and will be listed as questionable for Sunday's game vs. the Detroit Lions. Rookie defensive end Gaines Adams did practice on Friday, but will also be listed as questionable with a chest strain. Defensive end Patrick Chukwurah (shoulder) and cornerback Brian Kelly (groin) are listed as doubtful and likely will not play vs. the Lions.
Smith was carted off the field in a 13-10 victory vs. the Tennessee Titans early in the fourth quarter after his ankle got rolled up on. He has 14 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns this season. Smith has become a favorite target of quarterback Jeff Garcia, especially in the red zone.
Adams has 19 tackles this season and recorded the first sack of his NFL career last Sunday vs. the Titans. He sustained his chest injury during the Titans contest. If Adams can't play on Sunday, the Bucs will be thin at defensive end with Chukwurah sidelined this week as well. The defense needs as many fresh legs on the defensive line to rush the passer.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will turn to defensive ends Kevin Carter and Greg White to pick up the slack if Adams can't go. Carter and White are sometimes rotated from defensive end and defensive tackle. However, if they have to play mainly at defensive end, then Greg Peterson will see more time at defensive tackle.
Kelly has been battling a groin injury since a Week 1 20-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He has tried on multiple occasions to try and play through the injury, but it keeps forcing him to the sideline. Kelly's absence in the lineup forces the Bucs to move Phillip Buchanon into the starting lineup and cornerback Sammy Davis will see action in nickel situations. The nickel formation consists of four lineman, two linebackers, three cornerbacks and two safeties.
For the Lions, cornerbacks Stanley Wilson and Keith Smith left practice on Friday and are listed as questionable with groin and ankle injuries respectively. Wilson, who is a starter on Detroit's defense, didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday.
GARCIA MAKES RETURN TO DETROIT
Quarterback Jeff Garcia will head back to Detroit for the first time since his departure after the 2005 season. Garcia only played six games during an injury-plagued campaign with the Lions completing 102-of-173 pass attempts for 937 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions.
The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback didn't have many memories to reflect on during his one season in Detroit. However, Garcia felt that he came back too soon from a fractured fibula and sprained ankle that he sustained in the final preseason game during that season. He feels that situation was the reason for his lack of success with the Lions.
"Not a whole lot to reflect on just a situation that was a difficult year, starting with an injury in the last preseason game and just never seemed to get going for me," Garcia said. "It was an unfortunate thing. I believe that organization-wise and player-wise there were some possibilities to do some good things, but we just never really could get it going. When I did come back, I rushed back on to the field to try to make a difference and it really was a season that was a struggle from the get-go for me and led to an unfortunate firing of coach [Steve] Mariucci, who I feel is a quality coach. It's one that I learned from. I only signed a one-year deal there so when the year was over there wasn't much interest to keep me there so I went on."
After spending five seasons in San Francisco, Garcia bounced around three different teams in three seasons including Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia. Garcia has found a home with the Bucs starting the season with a 4-2 record and completing 66.7 percent of his pass attempts with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
The nine-year veteran doesn't look at his time in Detroit as a mistake, but instead a learning experience.
"I wouldn't call it a mistake," Garcia said. "I went with the belief and the feeling that I had an opportunity to compete and start and I think that if I don't get injured in the last preseason game I would like to think that things would be a little bit different for me there. It's one that I learned from. I can't say that it was a mistake. It was a decision that I made that I felt good about when I made it and it's just unfortunate that it was not the best of years there."
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