The injury bug has hit the Bucs hard over the past two weeks, losing running backs Cadillac Williams (knee) and Michael Pittman (ankle), and left tackle Luke Petitgout (knee) to their respective injuries.
But the Bucs received some good news on the injury front on Thursday when middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, who was limited in Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury, managed to give it a full go during Thursday’s workout at One Buccaneer Place.
Ruud has been dealing with the knee ailment for over two months, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it judging by how he’s preformed on the field. Ruud has recorded a team-leading 67 tackles, one interception, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in five starts this season.
He expects to play on Sunday vs. Tennessee and the Titans’ 4th-ranked ground attack.
“It’s been lingering for a while now,” Ruud said of his knee injury. “I kind of hurt it during training camp and it’s just been lingering for a while. I’ll play Sunday.”
There’s always a chance that Ruud will be unable to play in — or finish — Sunday’s game, which has the Bucs seriously considering making backup MLB Jeremiah Trotter active for his first regular season action since signing a one-year contract with Tampa Bay on Sept. 4.
“Well, there’s that possibility,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of the possibility of Trotter playing on Sunday. “Barrett Ruud was limited [on Wednesday]. It’s good to have Jeremiah here. He’s learning our defense. He’s been a leader in the clubhouse and he’s in the bullpen. He’s ready to go if needed.”
A four-time Pro Bowler, Trotter, 30, said he’ll be ready to go if called on Sunday.
“I’m comfortable with [the defensive system],” Trotter said. “Obviously you can’t learn everything in four or five weeks, but I’ve learned an enormous amount of the defense. Things change every week and that’s part of being in the NFL, but I’m adjusting.
“Obviously you want to be out there playing, but I’m just trying to support the guys that are out there. Support Barrett any way I can and hopefully he can get himself right any way he can.”
The bad news for the Bucs is cornerback Brian Kelly missed practice on Thursday for the second straight day. Kelly has been bothered by a nagging groin injury, which he suffered in Seattle in Week 1. If Kelly can’t play Sunday, nickel CB Phillip Buchanon would start in his place.
In other injury news, Bucs wide receiver Ike Hilliard (shoulder) was limited on Thursday after having full participation in Wednesday’s workout. Defensive lineman Greg White (shoulder) was limited on Wednesday, but was a full go for Thursday’s practice.
One injury Tampa Bay is monitoring closely is the ankle ailment Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is currently nursing.
The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Haynesworth has played an integral role in helping Tennessee’s defense rank 5th overall and 3rd against the run, where the Titans are surrendering just 72 yards per game on the ground.
Haynesworth missed his second consecutive day of practice on Thursday and there’s a chance he won’t play vs. Tampa Bay on Sunday, which would bode well for the Buccaneers’ 25th-ranked offense.
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