The Buccaneers are done practicing, even if it is only for a few days. After holding a walk-through practice at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista on Thursday morning, the team traveled back to Tampa to play its preseason opener against the New York Jets on Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.
Several players have uncertain statuses for Friday night’s game, including tackles Kenyatta Walker (knee) and Torrin Tucker (knee), cornerback Brian Kelly (family reasons) and defensive end Charles Bennett (hamstring), but Bucs head coach Jon Gruden stopped short of making any official announcements.
“There might be a couple [players out],” Gruden said. “We’re not going to make any announcements at this time. We still have all day today and all day tomorrow. Some of these guys will go to the football stadium on Friday night and we’ll take them out and see if they go.”
Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton, who was sidelined with a turf toe injury on Wednesday, will play against the Jets, according to Gruden.
Gruden also announced the quarterback rotation for Friday night’s exhibition game.
Bucs QB Chris Simms will start the game but will see a limited amount of playing time. He will be replaced by Tim Rattay and then rookie Bruce Gradowski. It is unclear whether QB Jared Allen will see any action in the team’s first preseason game.
Although they’d like to come away from their game with the Jets with a win, Gruden suggested the he and the coaching staff were more concerned with gauging what their players can and cannot do in different types of situations.
“Obviously, we’re not game-planning,” said Gruden. “I don’t believe the Jets are game-planning us. We’re going to have to respond to different things – different fronts, different coverages, different blitzes, different formations. It will be a great test for us and it will be a big evaluation.”
After holding 14 straight days of practice, the Bucs are ready to put what they’ve learned to the test by playing another team for a change.
“I think they’re looking forward to playing together as a team,” Gruden said. “They’ve been playing against each other most of the time. A chance to play a home game, the preseason opener — we’re looking forward to playing in Tampa. I do think the guys are eager to play another opponent. I’m sure New York feels the same way.”
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