With some players banged up and others getting healthier, there’s a chance Monday night could provide a prime time opportunity for some young Buccaneers to shine.
At practice Saturday, Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden said there is a good chance third-round draft pick, wide receiver Maurice Stovall, will see time at wide receiver when the Bucs play the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football.
Stovall has been hampered by an undisclosed back injury for most of the season, although he did see a couple of snaps in Week 4 at New Orleans.
“Maurice is doing good,” Gruden said. “I think we’ll throw him in there a little bit and see how he likes this league.”
The team could definitely use some help at the wide receiver position. Joey Galloway has four touchdowns and the only other receiver to score has been Michael Clayton, who caught the winning touchdown in the Cincinnati game.
“My back is fine, it feels a lot better,” Stovall said. “The trainers did a good job with my treatment and I’ve been preparing all week in practice to get ready mentally and physically for Monday night.”
Although he has yet to see significant time in a game, Stovall feels he is at least prepared mentally because of the fact he has been traveling with the team and experiencing the mental part of the game.
Defensive starters Simeon Rice, Shelton Quarles and Ellis Wyms have not practiced the entire week and are all listed as questionable. If they can’t go against Carolina, other players will have to step up.
“Obviously, Dewayne White would start,” Gruden said, speaking of Rice’s replacement at right defensive end. “We have a couple other guys [at defensive tackle] – Jon Bradley, Jovan Haye. Guys would have to step up and play.”
“Sounds good to me,” White said. “Anytime you can get more snaps, it’s always a plus, so I’m excited.”
Barrett Ruud, who started the season opener at the Mike linebacker spot in place of Quarles, has spelled the ailing veteran numerous times this season when his knee injury has flared up.
When the Bucs signed former first-round pick Phillip Buchanon after he was waived by Houston in October, they hoped he might add a spark in special teams.
His three touchdowns and 18.7-yard return average on punts was part of the attraction. But the cornerback hasn’t had that many opportunities to prove that he can be a threat this season. And when he did, things didn’t go so well.
“He’s got a pretty good feel,” Gruden said of Buchanon. “I think he made a bad decision [against New Orleans last week]. He probably should have run back one that he fair caught. But the number one criteria we’re looking for is a guy who can catch it. And we think he can be a guy who can make a play. He’ll keep after it, and hopefully when he gets a good look hell run it back the next time.”
Linebacker Shelton Quarles (knee), defensive end Simeon Rice (shoulder), defensive tackle Ellis Wyms (ankle) and cornerback Juran Bolden (hips) all missed practice Saturday and are listed as questionable.
Running back Michael Pittman (shoulder) is also questionable. Offensive tackle Donald Penn was added to the injury list with a strained foot.