PITTMAN RETURNS:
Tampa Bay’s woeful offense could use some help. That’s one of the reasons why the Buccaneers welcomed back running back Michael Pittman this week from a three-game suspension.

The Bucs’ offense currently ranks 30th in the NFL and has scored just two touchdowns in three regular season games. Pittman has rushed for 1,469 yards and hauled in 134 passes for 1,074 yards over the past two seasons. His return couldn’t have come at a more perfect time seeing as the Bucs placed tailback Charlie Garner (knee) on injured reserve Wednesday.

“He’s one of the top 10 or 11 all-purpose guys in the NFC the last two years,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “Catching the ball, he’s a 75-catch guy. He’s a great (blitz) pick-up guy. He can run the ball. His versatility is something we need, obviously, with Garner down.”

Per terms of his suspension, the NFL ordered Pittman to stay away from One Buccaneer Place from September 6-27. According to Pittman, he did whatever he could to try and stay in the best shape possible.

“I was working out near where I live and I was running at this park by the Cheval area,” said Pittman. “I had to wait until everyone left, of course, because I didn’t want anyone to see me out there running with my shoulder pads and helmet on. I didn’t want anyone to call the police on me. It was kind of embarrassing, but I did what I had to do.”

Pittman, 29, received the three-game suspension from the NFL as a result of his pleading guilty to an endangerment charge that stemmed from a May 2003 incident where he allegedly rammed his Hummer into a Mercedes carrying his wife, son and the couple’s babysitter. No one was hurt in the crash, but since he had already received a league-mandated suspension back in 2001 for a domestic violence incident, Pittman’s punishment was much more severe this time around.

In addition to his suspension, Pittman served 14 days in jail and will not be paid for the first five games of the regular season, which amounts to over $400,000 in wages.

Needless to say, Pittman is happy that the entire ordeal has finally come to an end.

“It’s all officially over now,” said Pittman. “I served my three-game suspension and I did what I had to do in the past. It’s all over. I’ve just been anxious to get back. It’s good to be back.”

BUCS-BRONCOS INJURY REPORT:
Tampa Bay is heading into Sunday’s game against Denver fairly healthy.

Bucs wide receiver/kickoff returner Frank Murphy is listed as probable with a hamstring injury. That’s the same injury that kept him out of last Sunday’s game in Oakland. While they remain hopeful that he’ll be ready to go against the Broncos, the Bucs secured an insurance policy Wednesday by signing WR/KR Marcus Knight, who spent training camp and preseason with the Bucs.

“He’s got to pass the test,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of Murphy. “He’s got to be able to run and change directions. So far, he’s not 100 percent, so we’re concerned about that.”

The Broncos have 10 players on their injury report. Cornerbacks Roc Alexander (finger) and Willie Middlebrooks (shoulder), guard/tackle Cornell Green (groin), punter/kicker Micah Knorr (ankle), running backs Garrison Hearst (ankle) and Tatum Bell (finger/rib) and tight end Jeb Putzier are all listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Cornerback Lenny Walls (shoulder) is listed as questionable and defensive end Trevor Pryce (back) is out.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on his team’s 0-3 start:

“Well, it is the head coach’s responsibility. We’ve had a lot of bad fortune here with the injuries. We’ve been in three competitive football games and there is a lot of football left to play. We’re not dying. All is not lost. We’ve got a lot of heartbeat on this football team and I think we have a lot of character. We just need some players to step up given our injury situation, that’s all.”

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