Tampa Bay’s Cadillac is getting the dents out this week and may be able to play in Sunday’s home opener at Raymond James Stadium against New Orleans. Running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, who is listed as questionable for the Saints game due to a rib injury he suffered last last Sunday at Seattle, indicated that his condition has improved over the last 48 hours.

“They’re doing much better,” Williams said. “They are doing a lot better from Sunday to today – a lot better. Everything is looking real positive right now. I definitely wouldn’t rule myself out. The way I feel, if it continues to get better, there’s no question .

“It’s like night and day. Monday morning I could barely breathe. If I cough or make a certain movement it was tough. I can move or cough without it hurting and it’s only Wednesday.”

Williams’ injury occurred early in the third quarter when he took a shot to his left side from Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu. That rib injury knocked Williams from the game and sent him to the locker room for x-rays.

“I got X-rays and there wasn’t anything broken or cracked, so I’ve got bruised ribs,” Williams said.

Williams said that Sunday was the first time he had taken such a hard hit to the ribs that it knocked him out of a game.

“This was actually the first time,” Williams said. “There’s not much you can do with it except treat it. My initial thought when I was laying on the ground was, ‘I know I done broke something.’ Once we got in x-rays and they said everything was good, I was just relieved just to hear that.”

The Bucs’ third-string running back missed practice on Wednesday due to the rib injury still being sore. Should he be able to play on Sunday and try to help the Bucs get their first victory of the season, Williams did say that he will wear some rib padding or a flack jacket to protect his left side.

“Definitely, with me coming out with a blow like that,” Williams said. “It’s sore and tender. I’m definitely going to wear some extra padding there. The extra padding won’t be where it impacts the ball or anything. We’ve got good equipment guys here and they will get a nice pad so it won’t impact the way I carry the ball.”

Williams had amassed 60 yards rushing on 12 carries in just over one half of play on Sunday and felt like both he and Tampa Bay’s offense were poised for big things in the third quarter of the Seattle contest, which was ultimately won by the Seahawks, 20-6.

“It was real disappointing for our team and for me because I really felt like the second half we were really going to get some things established, especially in the running game,” Williams said. “For me to go down and for [quarterback] Jeff [Garcia] to go down, it was devastating for our offense.”

Despite being injured, Williams seems determined to try to get back into action this week. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said that Williams did some limited work on Wednesday, but did not practice in pads.

“He was very limited today, but he did get a little bit of work done certainly above the neck," Gruden said. "He is making progress and that’s about I can say on that front. We obviously need him in the game so we will hold out hope that he will be ready to go.

“He does [feel better than on Monday], he feels much better. It’s hard to say when you are on an airplane on a five or six hour flight to go back there too many times how he’s doing. We are going to find out in the next day or so I think as to his true status and availability for the game.”

Williams insisted that if he is able to go on Sunday that he will play against the Saints.

“I don’t feel pressure, but it is my job to be out there on Sunday,” Williams said. “I’m going to do everything in my power in the training room to get it right. Sunday is a division game and it’s definitely a game I need to participate in.

“I’ll get with [head trainer] Todd Toriscelli and the guys and just see how I feel. The main thing is if I can ever get my breathing down and where I take a deep breath or cough, where there is no pain.”

If Williams cannot play or Sunday or only sees limited action, the Bucs are expected to rely on Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham to lead Tampa Bay’s rushing attack from the halfback position.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]