There was a lack of optimism in Bucs head coach Jon Gruden’s voice in Monday’s press conference when addressing questions concerning the turf toe injury that kept cornerback Brian Kelly from playing against Cincinnati Sunday.
Kelly has missed two of the Bucs’ first five games and is not expected to play this coming Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the No. 1-ranked pass offense in the NFL.
“He’s not making much progress, so his status will obviously be doubtful again for this game,” Gruden said of Kelly’s degenerative foot injury.
When asked about a time frame and options for Kelly, Gruden could only speculate.
“They tell me there’s a chance surgery could fix that,” Gruden said of Kelly’s foot injury. “It’s unfortunate. It’s just not getting better and he’s unable to go right now. Until he can go, we’ll continue to play the guys who are well enough.
”I can just go on what I hear from the trainer, and that’s that it’s just a sore toe and he’s not feeling good enough to play. I can’t say much more than that other than it’s a day-to-day thing. But he was unable to play again yesterday.”
Kelly became a full-time starter in 2001 and his 17 interceptions since 2002 leads the team and ranks 10th in the NFL. Nickel cornerback Juran Bolden has filled in for Kelly in two games, which he has missed, and aside from a 51-yard reception, he did an adequate job Sunday in drawing one of the league’s toughest assignments, stopping Bengals wide out Chad Johnson.
Fourth-year pro Torrie Cox has moved to nickel back duty.
Tampa recently acquired cornerback Derrick Strait and rookie Alan Zemaitis although both were inactive for the Bengals game. The Bucs are also rumored to be interested in trading for Bills cornerback Nate Clements.
SAY ITS TRUE
Running Back Cadillac Williams’ 38-yard run in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against Cincinnati was his longest of the season and helped set up the Bucs’ first touchdown.
The hole that Caddy ran through parted like the red sea thanks to a three-pronged blocking attack by guard Davin Joseph, right tackle Jeremy Trueblood and running back, turned part-time full back, Michael Pittman.
Joseph, who was making his first start, turned the defensive tackle towards the center as Pittman ran into the hole sealing off the right defensive end. Perhaps more impressive than Pittman’s block was Trueblood’s, who pealed off the line and engaged the middle linebacker responsible for filling the hole. Williams made one juke on the safety and cut across field to his left in what he thought, for a moment, would be a touchdown.
“Actually I did [think I could break it],” Williams said Monday. “It was a great block by Davin [Joseph] and [Jeremy] Trueblood on that side. All I had to do was make the safety miss. Once I got in the open field I felt like I could take it, but then I kind of peeked and seen a couple of guys running so I felt like I could cut back and make a big play.”
In two starts, Trueblood’s name has barely been heard, which is what an offensive lineman wants. But perhaps more telling, is that over the first three games of this season Williams rushed for a combined 107 yards with a long of 11. Over the last two games, he’s totaled 205 yards and has had runs of 34 yards against New Orleans and 38 yards against the Bengals.
While those results may not be entirely attributable to Trueblood (two starts) and Davin Joseph (one start), their insertion certainly has made a difference, according to Williams.
“Trueblood and Davin, those guys are real athletic. Those guys can run,” Williams said. “I think they’re playing a big role in what we’re doing down there. We’re able to toss the ball a little more and run a few wide plays because those guys are so athletic.
“I just feel like the guys up front are playing better as a whole, as a team. Bruce [Gradkowski], he’s mobile so he opens some things up too.”
INSTANT DEJA VU
Buccaneer fans with good memories were all too familiar with the South end zone disappointment in the 2005 NFC Wildcard game against the Washington Redskins. And for a moment this past Sunday, it seemed as if history might repeat itself.
With under a minute to play, Michael Clayton hauled in an 8-yard pass from quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on fourth down. As Clayton extended his arms to cross the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown, the ball hit the ground and came out. The catch, which was initially waived off by referee Mike Carey, was eventually overturned by instant replay.
Ironically, it was Carey who was on the replay end of a controversial catch, or in this case, non-catch, by Tampa Bay receiver Edell Shepherd in the loss to Washington, in the same end zone.
Shepherd caught what appeared to be a 40-yard scoring pass from QB Chris Simms, but replay ruled that the ball slipped from Shepherd’s control as his torso hit the ground, and the pass therefore was incomplete. The Bucs’ season ended that day in a 17-10 loss.
On Monday, Gruden was asked his thoughts on what it was like waiting for the instant replay ruling on Clayton’s catch.
“It’s uneasy, you know what I mean? You just cross your fingers and hope for the best,” Gruden said. “You know these guys are going to look at the instant replay and make a decision that is the right one. You’ve just got to hope it’s in your favor. You just cross your fingers and hope for a little good fortune.
The broadcast of Tampa Bay’s 14-13 win over Cincinnati will re-air on a special NFL Replay doubleheader at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.
NFL Network will condense the Bucs-Bengals game and the Panthers-Ravens game into 45 minutes eached. An encore presentation of NFL Replay will re-air on Friday, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Sunday's Bengals/Buccaneers and Panthers/Ravens games re-air on a special NFL Replaydoubleheader airing Thursday at 8:00 PM ET.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
When further questioned about instant replay, Gruden was asked if he thought Sunday’s favorable ruling meant the tide was turning in his favor:
“No, I don’t think that deep and philosophically. I’m not, ‘The tide is turning or the tide is with me.’ I don’t know a damn thing about the tide. I throw my line in the water whenever. I guess the tide has a lot to do when you can catch a fish, but I don’t get involved with that in football