Buccaneers starting under tackle Anthony “Booger” McFarland practiced Thursday after missing Wednesday’s workout with a sore groin. According to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, McFarland will play against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

“He’s ready to go,” Gruden said of McFarland.

Perhaps McFarland’s one-day absence is a good omen for the Bucs. Two weeks ago, McFarland missed a practice with a sore shoulder. That Sunday, he notched four tackles and two sacks en route to holding Seattle tailback Shaun Alexander to 45 yards rushing.

Not only was Gruden pleased to report that McFarland practiced Thursday, but he seemed to be impressed by the performance of second-year quarterback Chris Simms, who was anointed the team’s new starting signal caller on Tuesday.

“He had a good day today,” Gruden said of Simms. “The team rallied around him and made some plays, and I was very pleased.”

Although Saints running back Deuce McAllister, who rushed for 1,641 yards and eight touchdowns in 2003, is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, Gruden said Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his troops are preparing as if the Pro Bowl tailback will play.

“There’s no way to know, but we’ll prepare for McAllister,” said Gruden. “And if not, we’ll do the best we can with [Aaron] Stecker.”

PewterReport.com will have the final Bucs-Saints injury report when it’s released on Friday evening.

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