Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Clear Head


LB Jamie Duncan (foreground) was reduced to a spectator duing Friday's practice

The play seems simple enough in the official gamebook:

1-10-WAS 30 B.Johnson pass to L.Centers to WAS 35 for 5 yards (J.Duncan).

That line describes a short screen pass that Washington QB Brad Johnson threw to FB Larry Centers on the first play of overtime last Sunday. As indicated in the parentheses, Buccaneer middle linebacker Jamie Duncan made the tackle.

Washington didn't get a first down on that critical drive, but the effects of the first play have lingered for Duncan. The collision on the tackle gave him a concussion, and that might keep him out of Monday's game at Minnesota.

And that can be mildly frustrating for a player who doesn't feel hurt. As of Friday, Duncan was experiencing no lingering effects of the concussion, but the situation was still being approached with caution by the team's medical staff.

Duncan understands this, even though he would very much like to play. "I feel great," he said on Friday. "If it was up to me, yeah, (I would play)."

The team's approach has been to hold Duncan out of Thursday and Friday's practices and then re-evaluate on Saturday. Dungy indicated that the decision whether or not Duncan would play would be made that day.

"Once you've had one, the likelihood of having another one is pretty high," said Duncan, explaining the cautious approach. "They don't want me to have any contact this week. We'll just wait to see how I feel at the end of the week and go from there."

Actually, apart from a little dizziness when he first got on the team plane for the flight back to Tampa on Sunday, Duncan hasn't been the victim of the typical concussion symptoms. Instead, he's had neck pain, the result of the awkward tackle.

On the play, Duncan was prepared to make the tackle on Centers in the manner he is taught, bringing his head and neck up as the tackle is made. That does two things, avoiding the helmet-to-helmet collisions that are so dangerous and allowing the player to explode through the tackle.

However, Centers leaped just as Duncan was about to hit him, and the linebacker was unable to change his direction in time. His head and neck got jammed against Centers instead of coming up above the tackle. He was taken out for the rest of the game.

"There really wasn't a problem as far as my head feeling dizzy," said Duncan. "It was my neck more than anything. I had kind of a strained neck and it was kind of stiff. But the range of motion is a lot better in my neck (on Friday), so I should be fine."

Should Duncan get clearance from the medical staff, he will have to play against the Vikings with very little on-field work during the week. He's not concerned.

"I've done it before," he said. "You just have to do different things as far as your preparation. I mean, you have to be totally prepared. I don't see it being a problem."

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