The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the practice field Wednesday for their first workout of the week in preparation for their next opponent — the 2-0 New York Giants.
The Bucs practiced without a few key players, including center Jeff Faine (triceps) and wide receivers Antonio Bryant (knee) and Maurice Stovall (knee). Stovall did not practice at all while Bryant was limited in the workout.
Faine, who is expected to miss a few more weeks of action, has already been ruled out of Sunday's game. Sean Mahan likely will replace him again.
Bryant missed all four of Tampa Bay's preseason games after undergoing minor knee surgery. He played in Tampa Bay's regular season opener vs. Dallas, but caught just two passes before leaving the game early due to pain in his knee. The Bucs have listed Bryant as day-to-day.
"You got to know that A.B. wants to play," said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. "I have a good feeling about it, and I'm sure he does as well. I'm going to believe in A.B. and what he can do, and try to get him out there as quick as we can. We're all just hopeful he will be out there."
Despite not having Bryant and Faine for most of the 2009 regular season, Tampa Bay's offense currently ranks fourth overall in the NFL. Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson is pleased with the production, but stressed the importance of getting Bryant and Faine back in the lineup.
"It's early," said Olson. "We're missing two critical pieces in Jeff Faine and Antonio Bryant. We're not where we need to be. I knew this team had a chance to be good offensively based on being around some of these guys last year. I knew we were a few critical players away from being a pretty good offense. I think we can get there, but we have to be healthy."
In addition to Bryant, Bucs running back Earnest Graham (hamstring) and return RB/specialist Clifton Smith (quad) were limited during Wednesday's practice.
Bucs rookie defensive tackle Roy Miller (ankle) was held out of Wednesday's workout. He has been worked into the defensive line rotation behind starters Ryan Sims and Chris Hovan throughout his rookie campaign.
Bucs tight end John Gilmore (ankle), rookie defensive end Kyle Moore (groin) returned to practice Wednesday after missing Sunday's game due to their respective injuries. Cornerback Elbert Mack (shoulder) and linebacker Matt McCoy (back) also had full participation.
Bucs-Giants Game Won't Be Blacked Out
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never had a home game blacked out since Raymond James Stadium opened in 1998. That streak will continue for at least one more home game.
While it isn't sold out, the Bucs have confirmed that Sunday's game vs. the New York Giants will not be subject to NFL blackout rules, and will be broadcast on local television.
Fans wishing to purchase tickets for the Bucs-Giants contest should call TicketMaster or visit TicketMaster.com.
Bucs Confident In Allen
The 2009 regular season still is young, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already suffered a few key losses in their secondary.
Just before preseason ended, Bucs starting S Tanard Jackson received a four-game suspension for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. To make matters worse, the Bucs placed S Jermaine Phillips on injured reserve Wednesday less than one week after placing rookie cornerback E.J. Biggers on IR.
"It's hard to lose somebody like Tanard. He's a good guy and a good player," said Bucs safety Sabby Piscitelli. "With Flip, it's rough. He was doing well at linebacker and then moved back to safety because of Tanard's situation. It's hard to lose a guy like Fip, but it's part of the game. Our coaches do a great job of bringing in great players to help us out and create depth."
With Phillips sidelined for the season and Jackson scheduled to miss Tampa Bay's next two games before he's eligible to return for the Bucs' contest vs. the Eagles on Oct. 11, the team will turn to S Will Allen.
"Like I told you guys about Will Allen a long time ago, I feel like I have four starting safeties here," said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. "He's played a lot of safety around here. I have a lot of confidence in Will's ability and knowledge. Those two guys have to pick up the slack and play like starters. They are starters, so here we go."
Allen, a fourth-round pick out of Ohio State in 2004, has started 24 games at safety while making an even bigger impact on special teams during his six-year career. The Bucs players appear to be confident in Allen's ability to fill in for Jackson and Phillips.
"Will is a great player," said Piscitelli. "He's started in this league before and he's one of the hardest working guys I know. He's even helped me tremendously. He's a great leader, a special teams captain. We don't have to worry about Will. He'll be just fine."
Glazer Family Foundation Hosts School Supply Drive For Sunday's Game
Bucs fans attending Tampa Bay's Week 3 contest vs. the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium Sunday are encouraged to participate in the Glazer Family School Supply Drive, which will benefit Hillsborough County's most-needy schools.
Fans are asked to donate school supplies, alarm clocks, gently used clothing, hygiene items, new socks and underwear and shoes.
Volunteers will collect donated items at the yellow collection stations outside each gate at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.