AN OFFENSIVE SERVING OF RICE?:
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden is running out of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. That might explain why Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice was catching passes after practice on Wednesday.

“He’s a candidate to be used, yes,” Gruden said in a somewhat joking manner when asked if Rice could see action on offense. “There’s another lightning rod that can ignite us. You’ve got to light the match with some of these guys, and we’ll see what happens.

“Tight end, wherever it may be. Somewhere eligible — I don’t think he wants to play on the line.”

If Rice does indeed see action at tight end, it won’t be the first time Gruden has used a defensive player on the offensive side of the ball. Since joining the Bucs in 2002, Gruden has used defensive tackles Warren Sapp and Anthony McFarland as tight ends in short-yardage and goal line situations during games. He’s also flirted with the idea of using cornerback Ronde Barber as a wide receiver in a regular season contest.

CLAYTON PREPARES FOR RETURN TO LOUISIANA:
The last time Buccaneers rookie wide receiver won a game of significance was back in January when his LSU Tigers downed the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl.

That victory, which earned Clayton and the Tigers a share of the national championship, took place inside the Louisiana Superdome. Clayton is hoping that his next win, which will be his first regular season victory in the pros, will come in the same place this Sunday when Tampa Bay invades New Orleans to take on the Saints.

“I’ve had great success in the Superdome,” said Clayton. “I guess there’s something about playing in front of your home crowd. I have a lot of supporters there. Yeah, it would be nice to get my first win as a pro there.”

WALKER PUSHING FOR STARTING JOB:
Tampa Bay right tackle Kenyatta Walker is pushing for playing time.

Walker, the team’s 2001 first-round draft pick, started 43 regular season games before being replaced in the starting lineup this season by Todd Steussie, who signed with the Bucs during the offseason.

But last Sunday, Walker played approximately 48 percent of the plays against Denver while Steussie played 52 percent of the downs. According to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, Walker is pushing Steussie for the starting job.

“Kenyatta’s going to be pushing, yes,” said Gruden. “He’s a guy who I think, in the last 10 days, has had probably the best seven or eight or nine, ten days that he’s had since I’ve been here. That’s the bar that he’s got to get over. He’s got to maintain that, and if he does, you’ll all get to meet Kenyatta Walker and what kind of football player he really can be.”

BUCS-SAINTS INJURY REPORT:
The Bucs-Saints injury report was released Wednesday.

Tampa Bay will be without wide receivers Joey Galloway (groin) and Frank Murphy (Achilles), who was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday.

The Saints are a bit banged up. Linebacker Derrick Rodgers (back) is probable while running back Deuce McAllister (ankle), LB Courtney Watson (knee) and WR Jerome Pathon (hamstring) are questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bucs. Cornerback Mike McKenzie (hamstring) is listed as doubtful for the game.

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