JOHNSON GETS READY TO START:
Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson addressed the media Wednesday for the first time since he was benched in the second quarter of last Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks by Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden.

Johnson has completed 28 of 44 (63.6 percent) of his pass attempts for 203 yards and has yet to lead the offense into the end zone this season.

After completing just 4-of-7 (57 percent) passes for 34 yards against the Seahawks, Gruden benched Johnson in favor of second-year QB Chris Simms in an effort to spark his lifeless offense.

While Johnson wasn’t in favor of the move, he was supportive of Simms.

“I just wanted to stay positive and let the focus be on Chris, and be in his ear and help him out as much as possible,” said Johnson. “I thought he played a solid ballgame under those circumstances. It was unfortunate we did not come through.”

Simms completed 21-of-32 (65.6 percent) of his passes for 175 yards and led the team on two 71-yard scoring drives. But those drives ended with field goals, not touchdowns, and his ill-advised throw to linebacker Michael Boulware resulted in the game-clinching interception, which caused Simms and Co. to come up just short of a much-needed win.

As for Simms, that errant throw and a fumble down near Seattle’s goal line near the end of the second quarter ultimately prevented him from unseating Johnson as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback.

“It wasn’t a huge surprise,” Simms said of Gruden’s decision to go with Johnson. “Brad has been the leader of this team for a long time. He won a Super Bowl for the Bucs at quarterback just two years ago. I’m just going to continue to work hard because you never know what could happen in this league.

“If I had won the game and made a few of those plays, maybe it would’ve been a different story. The way it turned out, it didn’t surprise me at all.”

Johnson hopes to help Tampa Bay’s offense get into the end zone and out of the funk that’s got the Bucs winless on the season and ranked 30th overall in total offense. It all starts on Sunday night in Oakland.

“As far as for me, I keep my head to the grindstone,” said Johnson. “It’s still hard. I have never been 0-2, either. That’s the way it is and that’s the way we are as a team. It’s unfortunate where we are. We have dug ourselves a hole, and we’ll find our way out of it. I believe in the coaches. I believe in the system. I believe in the players. Unfortunately, we got off to a rough start. We will adjust. I am looking forward to Sunday night. It’s a great challenge for our team.”

Some of the Bucs offensive players seemed to support Gruden’s decision to put Simms in the game on Sunday.

“He did what he did because he’s the coach and he thought we needed a spark,” said Bucs left tackle Derrick Deese. “That’s what he’s supposed to do.”

Others were quick to point out that Tampa Bay’s offensive mishaps were not all Johnson’s fault and that Gruden made the right decision to start the veteran quarterback this week in Oakland.

“I think the problem is all of us on offense, and to not start Brad this week would’ve been saying that it’s all Brad’s fault,” said Bucs tight end Ken Dilger. “I think Jon (Gruden) realizes that and Brad’s starting this week again. You’ve got to put the blame on the whole offense and not just one person.”

SCHROEDER TO CONTINUE FIELDING PUNTS:
Despite the fact that Tampa Bay is averaging just 7.2 yards per punt return this season, the Buccaneers are sticking with wide receiver Bill Schroeder as their primary punt returner.

Schroeder has fielded six punts and is averaging just 3.5 yards per return. He also fumbled a punt in the first half of Sunday’s game, which pinned the Bucs offense deep in their own territory after cornerback Corey Ivy recovered the ball.

According to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, the Bucs are still open to the possibility of giving some other players, including Ivy and WR/kick returner Frank Murphy, a chance to improve their punt return average and starting field position.

“We’ve got Bill Schroeder, who had a mishandled situation last week,” said Gruden. “We’re going to continue to look at guys on our roster like Corey Ivy, guys who have done it in the past who could give us some relief here and give us some potential plays, which we need.”

BUCS-RAIDERS INJURY REPORT:
Tampa Bay tight end/long snapper Dave Moore was placed on the injury report Wednesday with a sore elbow. He’s listed as probable. Tight end Ken Dilger is listed as the team’s backup long snapper. Wide receiver Joey Galloway is out with a groin strain.

Oakland has three players — linebacker Napolean Harris (knee), running back Justin Fargas (toe) and TE Roland Williams (knee) — that are listed as questionable for Sunday night’s game in Oakland. Raiders defensive end Sam Williams (shoulder) is listed as doubtful.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on what kind of reception he thinks he’ll get from the Raiders fans:

“I’m sure I’ll get booed like hell. I don’t worry about it. I’ve got a lot of friends who will be sitting in the stands, the Terminator and the Axe-Grinder, whatever those guys’ names were. Those are guys I had a relationship with. Hopefully they don’t forget that, but I’m not going to get caught up in it. I look forward to going there and competing because we need to find a way to win a game.”

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