The Buccaneers are going to be without key contributor Jermaine Phillips for an extended period of time. The starting safety fractured his left forearm against the Dallas Cowboys, and had surgery this week to repair the injury.
Phillips is Tampa Bay's second-leading tackler and has also turned in some big plays including a defensive touchdown on a fumble recovery. Bucs coach Jon Gruden said that Phillips would not be placed on injured reserve at this time.
"He is out for this game," said Gruden. "We'll address it after the bye, as far as what prognosis it will be. I don't want to underestimate the loss of Jermaine Phillips. He has played very well for us.
"We'll address it after the bye and see how the injury heals."
The Bucs enjoyed the return of wide receiver Joey Galloway against the Cowboys. Fellow wideout Ike Hilliard played a week after sustaining a concussion against the Seahawks. Wide receiver Maurice Stovall was able to have some participation in practice for the first time in weeks as he has been recovering from a hamstring injury. Gruden also discussed some other injured players on his offensive unit. They include running back Warrick Dunn, and fullback B.J. Askew.
Dunn injured his back against Seattle, and Askew has been out since Week 3 at Chicago with a torn hamstring.
"We probably shouldn't have allowed [Dunn] to play (against Dallas)," said Gruden. "We chose not to use him as much. But he is such a warrior and has played this game for so long, but I agree that he wasn't himself Sunday in Dallas. He is such a big part of our offense. He and Earnest Graham have split almost 220 touches right down the middle. It is a unique combination we have. We have concern about Warrick, and we know he is going to be okay, but boy we miss him. That goes for some others.
"[Askew] worked today a little, and that was a good sign. He missed five games now, so we'll see how he is tomorrow. There is a chance that he will play against Kansas City. We'd like to have him play."
Playing fullback for Askew has been newly signed Jameel Cook, and starting halfback Earnest Graham.
Filling in for Phillips will be Piscitelli. The second-year safety missed one game this season with a dislocated elbow, but has returned to the lineup. Piscitelli has contributed strong play on defense and special teams when he has gotten into games. After missing most of last season after being placed on injured reserve, Piscitelli earned playing time this season and has been rotated in regularly on defense. Piscitelli believes that he is ready for the challenge of replacing the productive Phillips.
"I'm real excited," said Piscitelli. "It is what we practice for and work for every day. Coach does a great job of preparing everybody on the team. The number two team is already ready to play. Your always one play away from getting in there, and then being a starter, so I'm as ready as I could be.
"I think [defensive backs coach Raheem Morris] has done a great job with our three man rotation this year. We all get our plays and situations in. I think that has helped me a lot. Even in the last game, I was in with [Phillips] when it happened. I think the transition was smooth. It just felt comfortable to be in there because I was getting a lot of reps."
On the official injury report, the Buccaneers had a number of players listed. Dunn and Phillips were listed as not participating. The players that had limited participation were Askew, Stovall, Hilliard (shoulder), wide receiver Michael Clayton (knee), defensive tackle Jovan Haye (foot), and guard Arron Sears (back).
BUCS MAKE PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES Tampa Bay also made some adjustments to their practice squad on Wednesday.
Wide receiver Paris Warren was released, and the Bucs added two players. Guard Matt Lentz (6-6, 320) was on the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers practice squads in 2007. He was cut by the Steelers at the conclusion of the preseason.
The other player signed was TE Jason Pociask. After being drafted in the fifth round by the New York Jets in 2006, Pociask (6-2, 259) appeared in four games for New York making one reception for seven yards.
CHIEFS WITHOUT RB JOHNSON FOR SUNDAY'S GAME As if things weren't already bad for the 1-6 Kansas City Chiefs, team president Carl Peterson released a statement on Wednesday that declared the team's two-time Pro Bowl running back out of Sunday's game vs. Tampa Bay due to off-the-field issues, including an assault charge that could result in a NFL-mandated suspension.
"The case with Larry Johnson has been and continues to be in the hands of the NFL office in New York," Peterson said in a statement. "We will defer further comment on the matter until that process has run its due course and the league has concluded its own independent investigation.
"As we have previously indicated, it is in the best interest of both Larry and the Chiefs that Larry focuses his attention on addressing his personal issues. At present, we do not believe Larry can contribute to our team on the field until those issues are resolved."
The Chiefs could start Jamaal Charles in place of Johnson, although Charles is nursing an ankle injury that could keep him out of Sunday's game. Should Charles not be able to play, rookie RB Dantrell Savage, who has one career carry, could be placed in the line of fire vs. the Bucs' No. 5-ranked defense.