The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just a day away from the close of the 2008 training camp. The Bucs are looking ahead to their preseason home opener this Sunday against the New England Patriots. Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden discussed the state of the team after Wednesday morning's practice. Gruden was asked if starting quarterback Jeff Garcia would be ready to play against the Patriots on Sunday night.
"It's hard to imagine that at this point," said Gruden. "We're at Wednesday and he is not able to move around at full speed. I would like to see him start and finish a practice before we declare him ready to play."
Garcia missed over a week of practice with a calf strain, and was held out of the preseason game at Miami. Starting against the Dolphins was quarterback Luke McCown. At this point, Gruden would not say whether McCown would start again or if the Bucs would start veteran Brian Griese. After the morning session, Gruden discussed how the team looked in practice.
"Very good, as evident today our number two offense was horrific in spots against the number one defense," Gruden said. "I was disappointed today in that, but overall, I've seen some very positive things. We have a lot of work to do. We have some tough decisions to make, and some of those decisions will be made by the players."
One of the positions that will require some tough decisions is the wide receiver position. The Bucs have a number of receivers that are competing to make the team, and Gruden was asked if they have been stepping up to the competition.
"Not enough," Gruden said. "I have not seen enough, nor have you, nor have our fans. Somebody has got to step up. Somebody has got to step up. Antonio Bryant is doing that. Antonio Bryant I think is the one guy from a talent standpoint – and obviously now getting experience over these last three weeks – is picking it up. We need a couple more guys to do that – starting Sunday I hope.
"I've been pleased with [Bryant]. He's got a lot of talent. If you just watch the raw talent you see a guy with size, speed and excellent hands. He's learning two or three positions right now. He's cross-training, which is really hard. But I'm really impressed with him. He's a tremendous worker who made some plays today that were exceptional. We're excited about him."
The battle for the receiver spots and their position on the depth chart will probably go through the final preseason game.
WILLIAMS AND PETITGOUT UPDATE
The Bucs have two players that are on the active physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list in running back Carnell Williams and left tackle Luke Petitgout. Both players are rehabbing with the team, but it is unclear when either could come back to practice. Gruden was asked about the time frame for Williams.
"I've come out a couple of times and actually played defense and chased him down and made him work to explode and cut," Gruden said. "He's getting really close. I can't tell you how excited we are about how far he's come in such a short period of time. I have to keep it in perspective, but we're going to be very smart here and I'm not going to do anything until the trainers give the green light. Right now we're still on yellow and we're still working hard. There's a little bit of caution but boy, he's looking good and we're excited and happy for him."
Gruden seemed to be more optimistic about Williams then he was about Petitgout.
"Nothing really has changed," Gruden said. "Here we are in the third week of training camp. You are talking about key football players – Cadillac Williams, Petitgout and Jeff Garcia and (Joey) Galloway. We miss those guys. The status hasn't changed – the PUP. [Petitgout] doesn't seem close to coming back on the practice field, but he is working hard. It's a credit to him. It's a hard time for him."
Gruden was then asked if there is a possibility of Petitgout starting the season on the PUP list.
"Yeah. Yes, there sure is," said Gruden. "He's not active at this point in time. The training staff is working hard and Luke is working hard. The injury just isn't ready to go yet."
Garcia practiced again for part of Wednesday morning's session. He still was not participating in scrimmage sessions and was getting treatment during those times. Sitting out the practice was wide receiver Joey Galloway (groin), tight end Ben Troupe (foot), linebacker Matt McCoy (undisclosed), and safety Donte Nicholson (soreness). All players are considered to be day-to-day. Gruden discussed his feelings about the Bucs injuries.
"Thrilled. I was gushing with thrill," Gruden said sarcastically. "Ben Troupe is getting better. Joey is getting a little better. Jeff [Garcia] is getting a little better. Donte [Nicholson] is getting a little bit better. B.J. Askew is working back into it. [Sammy Davis] is working back into it as well. We're trying to get some of these guys well so they can play in the game Sunday night."
BUCS TO PRACTICE AT MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are scheduled to hold a pregame walkthrough at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Saturday August 16th. The walkthrough is done to give local military an opportunity to see the 2008 Buccaneers up close. The walkthrough will be held at the base's multipurpose athletic field. Players are scheduled to sign autographs for military personnel after the practice. The event is closed to the public.
CLARK CLEARS THE AIR
Wide receiver Brian Clark spoke about some of the news he has made over the past few days. Clark caught a touchdown against the Dolphins in the Bucs first preseason game. On Tuesday, he got in a tussle with linebacker Ryan Nece after some hard contact in practice. Clark spoke with the media about both incidents.
"I was trying to find a hole in the defense. I happened to be in it and we made a touchdown.
When asked about if everything was okay with his teammate, Clark had a smile on his face.
"Absolutely," said Clark. "Everything is fine. I texted Nece and apologized to him. He texted me back and apologized to me. When we were on the field we just kind of laughed about it and everybody thought it was kind of funny. It was just one of those things were we moved on and our focused on the next practice."
The Tampa native Clark, is living a dream come true having grown up close to the Bucs stadium and now being a Buccaneer.
"I was a Buccaneer fan because it was right down the street," said Clark. "My dad used to always watch the Bucs games. My dad would drive me by the old Houlihan's Stadium and we'd hear the crowd roaring."
"They were right down the street and I went to Chamberlain. I was able to see the Bucs when Keyshawn [Johnson] was playing here and [Keenan] McCardell. I tried to learn from them and go out and do what they did on Friday nights for Chamberlain."
While Clark is happy to be with his hometown team in training camp, right now he is focused on trying to make the team.
"It is competitive," said Clark. "We got a lot of guys here. You can't lose an opportunity. I think that is what every guy in the receiver room knows. We are all talented. We all love each other as brothers but at the same time we are competing. We know if we mess up there is guy coming right behind you and he is going to definitely try to make that play.
"For this game I want to be a huge contributor more on special teams. Coach Bisaccia demands a lot from each and every special teams player and I want to be one of those guys he can count on to make big plays on special teams."
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