The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were pleased that wide receiver Ike Hilliard was not injured more seriously against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. After staying overnight at the hospital, Hilliard was released and is working towards returning to the field for the Bucs.
"I took all the tests, and everything came back fine," said Hilliard who went on to joke with the media. "So I'm able to stand in front of you guys and talk a little bit."
Hilliard did not practice on Wednesday, but was out on the field catching some passes on the side and observing his teammates. The Buccaneers travel to play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and Hilliard was not sure what his status would be for the game.
"That has yet to be determined," said Hilliard. "They want all the symptoms to be gone, and we will go from there. It is all the normal stuff, you have to take tests, and get rid of the headaches. I had a nice little headache on Monday. I still have somewhat of one. As soon as that goes away we can move forward.
"We'll see. I want to play. They know I want to play. If I get cleared to play I'll be out there."
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden was not sure when Hilliard would return to action.
"When he is cleared he'll play," said Gruden. "We need Ike, right now he is day-to-day."
Hilliard said that the hit would not change the way that he plays and approaches the game. When told about that Gruden was not surprised.
"That is why he is Ike Hilliard," said Gruden. "You know, third and Ike. He has made a living between the hashes his whole career. He's a great receiver. The first thing he said to me was ‘it was a good NFL hit. I'm all right.' That's just the way he is. You prey for guys like that, whom you know are going to get hit. You pray for his wife and his family. You know they are concerned about their husband laying down there. There is a humanity part of this you have to consider, and I'm glad he's all right. Hopefully he can play for us soon, because he certainly is a big part of our offense."
Hilliard said that he did not have any short-term memory loss as a result of his concussion, and that he can remember everything that took place Sunday night. Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu also sustained a concussion on the hit and left the game. Hilliard said that when the training staff got to him he was unconscious and was snoring. The veteran wide receiver said that was not even the worst hit he has taken in his career.
"I've had worse than that," said Hilliard. "I had a hit that put me in the ICU for two days. It was in 2000, obviously in New York. Kurt Shultz, safety for Detroit, hit me on a Cover 2 post. He hit me so hard I was spitting up blood. I had a hole in my lung the size of a half dollar, and I was in the ICU for two days with a hole in my lung. That was probably the worst hit I've taken.
"Like I said it was a good NFL hit. It was a big time collision, and hopefully [Tatupu] is okay."
Hilliard's teammates sounded more frightened about the hit than he was.
"It was scary," Clayton said. "He's a close friend of mine. He's like a brother to me. I was in limbo as to whether to go after the ball and tackle the defender or to go check on Ike. I saw the way that he fell. It was a scary moment. We know as players that we risk our lives every play. It just shows how hard he is. He's an iron rock. He didn't want to go out on stretcher. It says a lot. He knows that he has family. He has a wife and kids are in the stands. Just to stand up on his feet, I was pumped up about him getting up. It shows a lot of heart and what he brings to the table."
While Hilliard observed practice, the Buccaneers enjoyed the return of fullback B.J. Askew. The Bucs starting fullback tore his hamstring during the Week 3 victory over the Chicago Bears. Also practicing on Wednesday was wide receiver Joey Galloway (foot), who has not played in a game since the home opener in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. Wide receiver Maurice Stovall was not practicing with his pulled hamstring.
"Yeah [Askew] returned today," said Gruden. "It was the first time in over a month that he was actually on the field. This is a game where you are going to have to change directions. Zach Thomas and Bradie James, you have to be able to re-direct, you have to be able to put your foot in the ground, and play explosively. You have to be injury free. I don't know what it looks like, but we were happy to have back out there."
Along with Askew, the Bucs backfield is dealing with an injury to running back Warrick Dunn. The veteran running back was unable to finish the game against the Seahawks after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an upper back stinger.
"[Dunn] is limited," said Gruden. "He participated a little bit in the walk-through. We are concerned about he and Ike Hilliard, B.J. Askew, Maurice Stovall, Cadillac Williams, Galloway, we got a lot of injuries on offense and they are mounting. [Brian] Griese, so we are concerned about it."
Tampa Bay released the official injury report and had a long list of players on it. Not participating in practice were Stovall and Hillard. Askew, Dunn, Galloway, long snapper Andrew Economos (shoulder), Griese (right elbow), and guard Arron Sears (back) were listed as limited participation. Linebacker Barrett Ruud (knee) was the only Buc on the injury report that was stated as full participation.