On Friday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held their first practice at One Buccaneer Place since breaking training camp earlier this week.
"It was good. It's been a long time, it feels like, since we've practiced here," Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said after the team conducted a two-hour practice on Friday afternoon. "It's great to be back in familiar surroundings. It was a nice stay in Orlando, but it's always nice to be home. We have a great facility and I just hope all of our players take advantage of it."
The status of several players still is up in the air due to their respective ailments.
One certainty is that quarterback Jeff Garcia will not play vs. the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Garcia, 38, has missed nearly two weeks of practice due to a calf injury he sustained in training camp. Luke McCown started at quarterback in Tampa Bay's preseason opener vs. Miami, but Brian Griese will start for the Buccaneers on Sunday night.
"We're going to start Brian Griese," said Gruden. "You'll see Luke McCown and hopefully you'll see all of the quarterbacks play, but we'll see how the game goes."
Griese completed 10-of-14 (71.4 percent) of his passes for 59 yards and capped off a 19-play drive with a touchdown pass during Tampa Bay's 17-6 win in Miami last Saturday.
McCown completed 9-of-15 (60 percent) of his passes for 70 yards, but did not lead the team into the end zone.
While Garcia has been sidelined for most of training camp due to the injury, both Griese and McCown have received a significant amount of reps as they battle for the right to earn the No. 2 quarterback job.
Sunday night could be the last time Griese and McCown receive extended playing time since Garcia, who has been working in individual periods for the past few days, is expected to return to action next week.
"Jeff is getting better," said Gruden. "Hopefully by early next week he'll be doing a little bit more.
"The thing we've been able to do is have both Brian Griese and Luke McCown take starting reps for basically the entire camp. We chart the reps these guys take over the years and both of these guys have taken starter repetitions, and in some ways it's helped them. Hopefully it will play dividends, but we do want to get Jeff back out there on the field. Hopefully that will be early next week."
Garcia worked extensively with injured wide receiver Joey Galloway during Friday afternoon's practice. Galloway, 36, missed all of training camp with a groin injury. Gruden would not commit to Galloway's return next week, but he seemed somewhat optimistic.
"Yeah, I think we're seeing progress," Gruden said of Galloway. "We'll just have to let you know when he's ready to go. He's getting better, but he's not ready to go yet."
Once Sunday's game vs. the Patriots is in the books, Tampa Bay will play just two more preseason contests before preparing for its regular season opener vs. the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 7.
Gruden suggested both Garcia and Galloway could play vs. the Saints even if their respective injuries prevent them from playing in the preseason.
"It's another saga we've got to work through," said Gruden. "I wouldn't like that, but if we have to we will."
Bucs defensive tackle Jovan Haye will also miss Sunday's preseason contest with a groin injury he sustained during the first week of camp. However, Haye could return to action as early as next week.
"He's doing well," Gruden said of Haye. "He's in the same boat as Joey and Jeff. We don't' believe it's serious, but he's made great progress and hopefully early next week you'll see him back out here on the field. We have been encouraged by Jovan's progress."
Tight end Ben Troupe was limited in practice this week due to a foot injury. Despite missing a significant amount of practice time, Gruden said Troupe could play vs. the Patriots.
"I think he'll play," said Gruden. "He's got plantarfascitis. With some of these guys, the best way to heal that is to keep them off of that. That's what we've done and we're very optimistic and hopeful that Ben can play in the game. We need to get him out there. He's had a good offseason. He's been somewhat disabled with that injury, and it's unfortunate."
Bucs To Hold Walk-Thru At MacDill Air Force Base Tampa Bay is scheduled to hold a pre-game walk-thru at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The military personnel at MacDill has been invited to attend Tampa Bay's walk-thru, but it is closed to the public.
It will mark the third straight year that the Bucs conduct a pre-game walk-thru at MacDill Air Force Base.
Bucs On National Radar Tampa Bay's preseason home opener vs. the New England Patriots will be nationally televised on NFL Network at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.
The Bucs aren't the only ones preparing for that game. NFL Network commentators Marshall Faulk, Sterling Sharpe and sideline reporter Adam Shefter were watching practice at One Buccaneer Place on Friday afternoon.
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