With the exception of cornerback Aqib Talib (ankle) and left guard Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder), who were limited in practice today due to injuries they sustained Tuesday, the 0-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are fairly healthy coming off their bye week as they prepare for the 4-3 Green Bay Packers.
That includes Bucs running back Clifton Smith, who was held out of Tampa Bay's game vs. New England due to a concussion he sustained the previous week against the Carolina Panthers.
Smith, who was a Pro Bowl return specialist as a rookie in 2008, wanted to play in London, but in hindsight, he believes Tampa Bay's decision to hold him out of the game was a good one.
"I think it was the right decision," said Smith. "I still had some headaches going on there. I tried to be the tough guy and play, but they knew what was going on and helped me out."
The former undrafted free agent sustained the concussion late in the second quarter of Tampa Bay's home game vs. Carolina when Panthers defensive back Dante Wesley threw a vicious hit and cheap shot on Smith as he got ready to field a punt.
The unsportsmanlike hit drew a 15-yard penalty and led to Wesley being ejected from the game and suspended for one contest without pay by the NFL.
While he accepted Wesley's apology one day after the incident, Smith won't forget it. In fact, he doesn't want to.
"Everybody blacks out playing this game, but I had never had anything to the point like that," said Smith, who was unconscious and lay motionless on the field after Wesley's hit. "It's like [quarterback] Byron Leftwich always explains, ‘You leave the earth for a minute.'
"I watch [the hit] all the time. There was a big picture the next day in the paper of me laying on the ground. I posted it on my bedroom wall so I never forget."
The good news for the Bucs is Smith is completely recovered from the concussion and will play in Sunday's game at Raymond James Stadium.
"I used the bye week to rest my head and eyes a little bit more," said Smith. "The training staff did a great job with me. I'm ready to go now.
"I feel perfectly fine," said Smith. "I feel normal and nothing has been bothering me, so I'm fine and ready to play."
Smith is averaging 8.8 yards per punt return and 27.9 yards per kickoff return this season. After returning two kicks for touchdowns as a rookie, Smith still is looking for his first score in 2009.
Only three players have ever returned kickoffs for touchdowns for the Buccaneers. Wide receiver Micheal Spurlock was the first to accomplish that feat in 2007. Smith was the second in '08 and rookie WR Sammie Stroughter returned a kickoff 97 yards for a score, which set a team record, in place of Smith on Oct. 18.
The Bucs are wearing their throwback uniforms for their upcoming game vs. the Packers. Bucco Bruce served as the team's logo from 1976-96. While he can't become the first player to return a kickoff for a touchdown in franchise history, Smith was reminded Wednesday how no player ever returned a kickoff for a score in Tampa Bay's creamsicle colors. He wouldn't mind making history.
"I guess I have to be the first then," Smith said.
In other injury news, Talib (ankle) and Zuttah (shoulder) were limited in practice Wednesday. Wide receivers Antonio Bryant (knee) and Michael Clayton (wrist) had full participation in practice.
The Packers held several players out of practice Wednesday with their respective injuries, including WR Donald Driver (neck), WR Jordy Nelson (knee), QB Aaron Rodgers (ankle), TE Jermichael Finley (knee), C/G Jason Spitz (back) and CB Charles Woodson (hip).
Green Bay fullback Korey Hall (calf) and S Derrick Martin (concussion) were limited Wednesday. Left tackle Chad Clifton had full participation in practice.