"I'm very anxious," Crabtree admitted at the conclusion of that Wednesday practice at One Buc Place. "I started going out there without my helmet today, I was so anxious. I'm ready to go. I felt good running around out there. I'm still being smart with it, just trying to be healthy for Sunday."
It's safe to say the Buccaneers are just as anxious to have Crabtree back in the mix. The team's tight end position has been a trouble spot so far, largely due to injuries. The primary vision for the position in the spring, after the signing of the former Green Bay Packer in free agency, was a combination of Crabtree and third-year player
There seems to be confidence that Crabtree will be able to play this weekend against Philadelphia, and that's reflected – so far, at least – in the fact that he and Wright are the only two tight ends on the 53-man roster. As much as Wright is starting to look like an interesting weapon in the passing game, the presence of Crabtree would give the Bucs a much more traditional array of offensive options out of the tight end position. Given his origins as a receiver and his 220-pound frame, it would make sense that Wright is still developing as an NFL-caliber blocker. Crabtree, on the other hand, is considered an excellent blocker who has also shown some big-play capability in the passing game.
Crabtree had three catches for 71 yards during the preseason. The very first time the ball was thrown in his direction – coincidentally by the team's recently-promoted starting quarterback,
"'Tree has a versatility that can present some problems for the defense and help us as an offense," said Sullivan. "He is strong enough and physical enough to do the things that you want to do in the run game – pass protection, if necessary – and yet still athletic enough and fast enough to win the one-on-ones, to get separation, short-area quickness that you want for some of your immediate routes."
I'm ready to go. I felt good running around out there. I'm still being smart with it, just trying to be healthy for Sunday.
Surely, the Buccaneers would prefer to have all of their tight ends from training camp returned to health, but for now they'll turn their playbook attention to Crabtree. He is not expected to be, nor does he view himself as, a savior for a Buccaneer offense that has struggled through the first quarter of the season. However, he does think that offense is close to hitting its stride and he's happy that he'll get to be a part of it.
"It's a lot of little things that just haven't come together for us," said Crabtree. "The other guys we have at tight end, unfortunately we've had some injuries, but the other guys, they're good players too. We've just been unfortunate with injuries. Hopefully I can get in there and add a little something, but more than that, we as a unit, we all know that it's just this close on a lot of things."