Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden can breath a little easier now that wide receiver Joey Galloway has returned to the practice field and is showing no lingering effects of the groin injury that kept him out of all of training camp and the Bucs' first three preseason games of the year.
Gruden suggested Galloway, 36, would be ready to play vs. the Houston Texans on Thursday night.
"Yes, he is an option to play," Gruden said of Galloway. "He looked good today. We're encouraged to have him back. He ran some good routes, showed good quickness in and out of his routes and showed good speed down the field. We're pleased to have him back."
Although he hasn't made the Pro Bowl, Galloway has been Tampa Bay's primary offensive weapon since 2005. Gruden doesn't seem too concerned with Galloway's playing time, or lack thereof, in the preseason games. At this point, the head coach and offensive playcaller is just happy to have Galloway back out on the practice field.
"He's a guy that I think played a total of 26 snaps in preseason last year and 22 the year before that. I kind of did the math on that," said Gruden. "Should we play him 12 plays in the last preseason game? Is that really going to get him ready to play in the regular season? He's missed a lot of practice time and all of the preseason. The good news is he is healthy and he looked good on the field today. I'm going to look at it as good news."
CASH ON THE MEND Tampa Bay middle linebacker Antoine Cash had to be carted off the field in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's preseason game vs. Jacksonville after colliding with cornerback Marcus Hamilton.
Cash spent the night in the hospital, but was released on Sunday. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said Monday that Cash's neck injury is not serious and that he could actually return to action sometime soon.
"He's going to be okay," said Gruden. "He'll be out for a few weeks, but it's not anything we know to be serious. We're thrilled to get that news. He has a sore neck. Hopefully he gets better in the coming days."
Cash, who turned in a strong preseason in 2007 before landing on injured with a knee injury last year, is in a tight competition with Matt McCoy for the backup middle linebacker spot.
"He's played well for us," Gruden said of Cash. ‘It's not an easy defense to come in at middle linebacker and make all of the calls on defense and adjustments. He's picking that up and he's made a lot of plays. He's a middle linebacker and he can play in every situation. He's doing well. He's also a good special teams player."
Hamilton also left the game after the collision with Cash on Saturday night. He injured his hip and is unlikely to play in the preseason finale in Houston.
"He got a hip pointer," Gruden said of Hamilton. "It wasn't a serious injury, but he'll be very doubtful for this upcoming game."
ADDITIONAL INJURY UPDATES Bucs fullback B.J. Askew has been sidelined with an ankle injury and underwent surgery to repair the ailment on Aug. 15. The good news for the Bucs is Askew is expected to return to the practice field next week, which is when Tampa Bay will begin preparing for its Week 1 opponent – the New Orleans Saints.
"He'll be back on the field Monday," said Gruden. "I just talked to B.J. before practice and he's doing extremely well. The great thing about this injury is he will be 100 percent ready to go for the regular season. It's been a little awkward not having him around, but we did the right thing getting him well. We'll try get him a lot of snaps on Monday and Tuesday in our bonus days next week."
Bucs WR Michael Clayton, who caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeff Garcia on Saturday night, was injured in the 23-17 loss to the Jaguars. Clayton did not practice on Monday, but could play vs. the Texans.
"He's got a sore chest muscle. He came out of the game the other night," said Gruden. "We think he's got a chance to play. There were several guys that were limited and couldn't go today. He couldn't go today, but hopefully he can go tomorrow."
Another wide receiver, Antonio Bryant, missed Saturday's game with swelling in the knee. The Bucs have apparently seen enough from Bryant to feel comfortable keeping him out of the preseason finale in Houston on Thursday.
"I think the best thing we can do is what we did last week, which is maybe rest him," Gruden said of Bryant. "It's nothing structural we believe, but it is sore, so he needs time. He didn't ‘t do much today. If it doesn't make tremendous improvement we might just hold him in this final preseason game."
ROSTER CUTS LOOMING Each NFL team will be required to trim their 80-man rosters down to 75 players by 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
The Bucs will have to part ways with five players before having to trim the roster down to 53 players on Aug. 30.
Head coach Jon Gruden indicated that Tampa Bay's coaching staff and front office will meet on Monday night and announce its roster cuts on Tuesday.
"It's hard. There's no question about it," Gruden said of the roster cuts. "You've been with these guys and seen the work they've put in, but you have to do what you think is right for the football team and reduce your roster to 53. We feel good in the fact that we've been fair and given just about everybody a chance to go out and showcase their stuff. At the end of the day, hopefully everybody respects that."
The Bucs will use their preseason finale vs. the Texans as a way to take another look at some of the players on the bubble, but Gruden's primary objective is escaping the exhibition contest healthy and executing better than the team, particularly the offense, did on Saturday night.
"The big thing is we have to keep the right 53 guys, not necessarily the best 53 guys," said Gruden. "We have to consider special teams and versatility because on Sunday you don't have 53 guys playing, you only have 47. We have to keep the right 53 players."
GARCIA'S PLAYING TIME UNDERTERMINED Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia missed a significant amount of training camp and Tampa Bay's first two preseason games with a calf injury. He showed that there was rust to shake off in his return to action vs. the Jaguars by tossing two interceptions on Saturday night.
When asked how long Garcia would play vs. the Texans on Thursday night, head coach Jon Gruden stopped short of declaring the role of Garcia or any of his players for the game vs. the Texans.
"We're telling everybody to go about their business as if they're starting," said Gruden. "I doubt we'll make those decisions until we get to the stadium. Jeff got a lot of work today and he'll get a lot of work tomorrow."
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