Rather than have him fly to and from Houston with the rest of team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opted to leave tackle Kenyatta Walker in Tampa in an effort to reduce the swelling in hi sore knee.

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden suggested Friday that Walker would be ready to return to practice on Monday, which is one day after the team is required to trim its roster down from 72 to the league-mandated amount of 53 players.

“We think he’s going to be okay,” said Gruden. We left him in Tampa; obviously he had some swelling that persisted through camp, so we didn’t want to fly him on an airplane. But he’s much better today, ready go and he’ll practice Monday.”

Wide receiver Joey Galloway, who missed Tampa Bay’s final two preseason games with a groin strain, is expected to return to practice on Saturday.

“He’s fine,,” Gruden said of Galloway. “He will practice tomorrow and he’s going to be ready to roll. He’s running extremely well.”

Starting left tackle Derrick Deese, who played in his first preseason game as a Buccaneer on Thursday night, was seen icing his surgerically-repaired foot down on the sideline, but Gruden was encouraged by how Deese was feeling on Friday morning.

“He did a good job,” Gruden said of Deese. “He played about 24 or 25 plays and we’re pleased with what he did. He feels good today and it was a good sign for us.”

Despite the fact that Tampa Bay kicker Martin Gramatica made just 6 of 10 (60 percent) of his field goal attempts during preseason and missed three of his final four attempts, the Bucs are sticking with him.

Gramatica is coming off a sub-par season where he went 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) on field goal attempts.

All four of his preseason misses have been in the 40-yard range. In fact, Gramatica was just 3-of-7 (42.8 percent) on field goal attempts beyond the 40-yard line in preseason.

Still, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden remains confident that Gramatica can recapture his 2002 form, where he made 82.1 percent of his field goal attempts.

“I’m going to try to use a more optimistic approach than to keep talking about it,” Gruden said when asked about Gramatica’s woes. “I’m confident in his abilities. Obviously, we’re disappointed that he’s had some misses, but we’re confident he’s going to be a heck of a kicker for us. We’ve just got to keep working to resolve any problems that are in his game right now. We still think he’s going to be a real positive asset to our team. We think he’s a great kicker, he’s just got to make his kicks.”

Tampa Bay must trim its roster down from 72 to 53 players by 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The Bucs will spend Friday night and Saturday morning deciding how to best eliminate 19 roster spots. There’s a chance that a player(s) that’s not on the Bucs roster now could be there when the team forms its 53-man roster on Sunday.

“Last night’s game was the last real evaluation, so obviously we’re going to use it the best way we can,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “A lot of guys played. We’ll look at the health of the team, and certainly it will be a real tool in helping us make some calls that are going to be tough.

“I’m sure it will take us some time this evening. We’re going to make sure we do our research and make sure we’re talking around the league here to make sure we’ve done what we can to keep the best 53. If we need to acquire a player from somebody else, we’ll work hard to do that.”

Although the NFL-mandated deadline is Sunday, the Bucs could announce their 53-man roster as early as Saturday afternoon, which is when the team is scheduled to hold a one and a half hour practice at One Buccaneer Place.

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on the biggest improvement in the preseason is compared to last year:

“I think the quarterback play was very good. I think when you look at Chris Simms completing 70 percent of his passes and Brian Griese’s last two performances in a new system are very positive. Brad Johnson (looked) very sharp, (he is) sustaining long drives. I was very pleased with the quarterback position. The linebacking corps, I’m really impressed with. The depth, the speed of these men is something we’re excited about. And probably the wide receiver position is an area that I’m excited about. I did not know a lot of these players, (Joey) Galloway, (Michael) Clayton, (Bill) Schroeder. I never really met these guys until this season and I’m pleased with what they’ve done also, very pleased.”

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