DT Warren Sapp left the field for a bit on Saturday with a leg injury
Last week, as he watched practice from the sideline with a hamstring strain, DT Warren Sapp said that it would take 'a pack of wild dogs' to keep him from playing in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Divisional Playoff Game. The dogs didn't get Sapp, but somebody took a chunk out of his left leg in the Bucs' win over Washington, forcing him briefly to the sideline.
Sapp was able to return, and Head Coach Tony Dungy indicated on Sunday that he expects the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year to also be in action next Sunday in St. Louis. The same cannot be said of LB Alshermond Singleton, the Bucs' most seriously injured player from the Washington game.
"Al Singleton won't play in St. Louis," said Dungy. "He has a broken bone in his leg. He and John McLaughlin actually got hurt on the same special teams play. John should be able to play…he's got a broken bone in his hand. Hopefully, we can cast that up so he can practice, then get a special one made for the game."
Singleton and McLaughlin, two of the Buccaneers' most effective kick-coverage players were both hurt on the third quarter kickoff that followed Mike Alstott's touchdown run. Singleton has split time with LB Shelton Quarles at the strongside slot all season and played on most kick coverage squads. McLaughlin has played primarily on kickoff and punt coverage, often serving as the outside 'gunner' on punts, an unusual assignment for a 250-pound defensive lineman. With Singleton unavailable, Quarles will see increased activity and LB Jeff Gooch, who started all 16 games in that spot in 1998, could be called on to fill in.
Despite Singleton's disappointment, Sunday's injury report was actually fairly positive for Tampa Bay, considering some of the tense moments in Saturday's game. Sapp left the game in the third quarter with his injury but was able to return after missing a single snap. CB Donnie Abraham, who has appeared on the injury report with his own hamstring ailment, tweaked his knee in the first half against Washington but later returned. DT Brad Culpepper came into the game with a foot ligament injury that needed the team's playoff bye week to recover. He's still a concern but, like Sapp, would probably withstand significant pain to play in the NFC Championship Game.
"We had some guys that got banged up a little bit," said Dungy. "It was a very physical game. Defensively, we have some guys banged up, but they should be good by the end of the week."
Dungy also indicated that WR Reidel Anthony, who missed the season finale in Chicago and Saturday's game against Washington with a quadricep pull, is not expected to be available in St. Louis. Anthony actually had improved to 'probable' on the team's midweek injury report last week before reinjuring his leg on Thursday. Though the NFL's injury report will not be made official until Wednesday, Anthony was considered 'doubtful' on Sunday.
After taking Sunday off to savor their victory and watch the rest of the NFL's Divisional Playoff action unfold, the Buccaneers will return to the team complex on Monday for meetings and a light practice. Additional injury information will be available on Monday afternoon.