Tampa Bay rookie running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams practiced Wednesday, but he’s still listed as questionable on the Bucs’ official injury report.
Williams carried the ball 99 times for 447 yards (4.5 avg.) and two touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s first four games until a foot/hamstring injury sidelined him for two straight contests.
Despite missing those contests, being limited in practice over the past three weeks and coming off a bye week, Williams said Wednesday that the foot/hamstring injury he suffered in Week 2 is still bothering him.
“It’s strange,” Williams said. “I’ve never had something like this where one day it feels good and the next day it’s so-so. Right now, I’m just taking it one day at a time, continuing to get treatment. I’m doing everything they’re telling me and I’m working through this thing.
“The progress has been slow. I never thought it would be like this, where I’d be missing two or three games. I’ve been out a couple weeks now and it’s still been giving me trouble. Progress has been slow, but on Sunday I had time to rest, I rested it all last week and I feel like I should be ready to go.”
But Williams did practice, and Bucs head coach Jon Gruden suggested Cadillac looked pretty good.
“He looked okay to me today,” Gruden said of Williams. “He’s got to get back into his rhythm as a football player. He’s been out for some time. We expect him to play, to be honest with you, but I can’t say any more than that. We will see how he feels tomorrow, and hopefully he feels better and can perform more and more as the week unfolds.”
Tampa Bay will be without free safety Dexter Jackson (hamstring), who has been ruled out of Sunday’s game, which means second-year S Will Allen will start in his place.
Starting strong safety Jermaine Phillips practiced and will likely return to action vs. San Francisco after missing two straight games with a broken thumb.
“The thumb’s doing good. I’m ready to get out there and start hitting again,” said Phillips. “The bye week came at a great time. That gives me four weeks under my belt. It’s going to be good when we go to San Fran.”
San Francisco’s injury report is quite lengthy. Two players, cornerback Ahmed Plummer (ankle) and linebacker Saleem Rasheed (knee), have been ruled out of Sunday’s game.
49ers rookie QB Alex Smith (knee) is questionable and did not practice Wednesday. Word out of San Francisco is backup QB Ken Dorsey will start in his place vs. the Bucs. Tackle Jonas Jennings (shoulder) and wide receivers Arnaz Battle (knee) and Otis Amey (ankle) are questionable. 49ers center Jeremy Newberry (knee) and T Patrick Estes (ankle) are probable.
West Coast Woes The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just 1-9 in the regular season in games played at San Francisco. In fact, the Bucs’ last road win vs. the 49ers came back in 1980.
But it hasn’t just been the 49ers that have given the Bucs problems – it’s been trips to the West Coast.
Since 1990, Tampa Bay has produced just a 4-16 regular season record in games played on the West Coast. To make matters worse, the Bucs have dropped five straight regular season games on that particular side of the country.
While he tried to remain positive when asked about Tampa Bay’s West Coast woes, Gruden did acknowledge that his Bucs have produced a 0-4 record since 2002 in regular season games played on the West Coast.
“I’m so tired of the negativity, I can’t tell you,” Gruden said. “I’m trying to concentrate on having fun, you know what I mean? Competing, playing better and working on our overall performance, and not worrying about what happened in 1980. There have been negative strings tied to this franchise, it seems like, for every opponent we play. So I try to stay away from that, honestly. I’m well aware of my record as a head coach, if that means anything at all. I doubt it, but if it does, it’s not very good on the West Coast. We haven’t played well. I remember when I was at Oakland and I think we handled this team when they came out to California pretty good. Hopefully they’re all listening and they understand that the Western time zone is no excuse to play at any level but the best.”
While he hasn’t won a regular season game on the West Coast as Tampa Bay’s head coach, Gruden has helped erased some bad history from the Bucs’ past, including consecutive losses in cold weather, defeating the Eagles in Philadelphia and getting a win in Green Bay, which happened earlier this season. The Bucs hope they can cross off another bad statistic from the list on Sunday after they play the 49ers.
“We had a lot of opportunities to have closure on a lot of things while I’ve been here, closed on a lot of them,” said Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber. “We don’t really consider the west coast to be any different than playing anywhere else. Unfortunately, we haven’t won there, that’s no reason or excuse than the ones we have for ourselves.”
The Bucs have shown they can overcome the challenges of traveling across the country to play a football game under Gruden. On January 26, 2003, Tampa Bay defeated the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXVII, which was played in San Diego.
Daly Visits Bucs The Bucs welcomed a special guest to practice on Wednesday when pro golfer John Daly visited One Buccaneer Place while in town for the Chrysler Championship, which will be played at the Westin Innisbrook – Copperhead in Palm Harbor from Oct. 24-30.
After practice, Daly walked onto the field and received a hug from Gruden, who is one of his biggest fans.
“This guy’s been in the limelight, he’s had his great days, he’s had some tough days, he’s shown resiliency and resolve and he’s still pounding that golf ball, man,” said Gruden. “I like having guys like that around here who have been championship performers and have aspirations of doing it again.”
The feeling is likewise for Daly, who is a Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys fan but has admired Gruden from afar.
“I’ve followed Coach for a long time and I love his intensity,” said Daly. “I love the way he coaches and it’s great to finally come out and see him.”
Spy Games Tampa Bay’s newest quarterback, Tim Rattay, spent the bye week absorbing Gruden’s playbook, but the Bucs are also trying to pick Rattay’s brain since he’s extremely familiar with the 1-5 San Francisco 49ers.
“It’s just been talk about personnel,” Rattay said. “The coaches do a great job scouting and doing all of the film work themselves. They know what is going on. Mainly, it’s just about personnel and saying what guy does what real well.”
Rattay spent nearly five and a half seasons with the 49ers before being traded to the Bucs last week, which will make Sunday’s trip back to San Francisco a little awkward, but the Bucs’ newest quarterback will be rooting for the right team in red on Sunday.
“It will be a little different,” said Rattay. “I’ll have to make sure I’ll go in the right locker room. It will be weird (because) I’ve been there for a while. This is just something you have to adjust to. I’m excited to be here and be on this team.
“I understand that this is a business. They decided – the administration and staff decided – they didn’t want me there anymore, and this team wanted me here, so I’m a Buc now and that’s where my allegiance is.”
While the Bucs will lean on Rattay for some strategic advice, Gruden insisted that information alone would not be good enough to beat the 49ers on Sunday.
“He can help us. I think they understand what he can help us with, too,” Gruden said of Rattay. “It’s like playing the Vikings in the opener; I do believe Brad Johnson could help them. And I thought (former Bucs offensive quality control coach) Jeremy Bates could help the Jets when we play them. There are a lot of guys that we know, that he knows, that we all know who can help the other team, so you’ve got to put it into perspective. We’ve got to line up and we’ve got to hit this team like they’re going to hit us, and we’ve got to play a lot better football in the second half of the season to stay in the race.”
Clayton Wins Bet With Cadillac The Bucs preached accountability on the football field during the offseason, but on Wednesday, wide receiver Michael Clayton held rookie RB Cadillac Williams accountable off of it.
The two teammates and friends made a friendly bet on Saturday night, which is when Clayton’s LSU Tigers defeated Williams’ Auburn Tigers in overtime, 20-17.
As a result of being on the losing side of that bet, Williams had to sport Clayton’s LSU jersey in the locker room during Wednesday’s interview session with the media.
“We made a little bet, and it was a great game,” Clayton said. “I told him how hard it was to play in LSU, but he still wanted to make the bet.
“He’s struggling to wear that jersey right now It’s from my freshman year, so he’s struggling to breath right now. But he’s good with his word. He said he was going to wear it. He was trying to get out of it, so I had to walk him to his locker to make him put the jersey back on. But he’s good with his word.”
Quote Of The Day Gruden on how he’s feeling about the Bucs’ 5-1 record:
“I’d like to say it’s a real warm, cozy feeling, but I don’t feel any different than felt last year at 1-4. the 49ers are dangerous, very dangerous. saw them soundly defeat St. Louis home. have Dallas on ropes. They had quality lead with about four minutes left and lost it in closing seconds. know they’re dangerous enough (defensive lineman) Bryant Young (fullback) Fred Beasley clout locker room, (head coach) Mike Nolan’s good coach.”>
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