WR Bert Emanuel, who has missed the last four games with a right hamstring strain, returned to practice today and said he is confident he will be ready to play against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Emanuel played with the Falcons from 1994-97, before signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Buccaneers last season. He has seven receptions for 94 yards and one touchdown in four games this season.
"I feel good, but it's more than just getting to play against my former team," Emanuel said. "I'm ready to go out there and have a good week of practice and help contribute to this team on Sunday."
"Bert had a good day of practice and will see how he feels tomorrow," Bucs coach Tony Dungy said. "Tomorrow will be a big day for him and will see how he responds after going through today's entire practice."
Emanuel is listed as probable on the team's injury report. QB Eric Zeier (right rib contusion) and T Jason Odom (low back strain) are both listed as doubtful and did not practice. G Todd Washington, who sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game and also did not practice. G Frank Middleton (right shoulder contusion) sat out today's practice for precautionary reason but should play on Sunday according to Dungy.
BUCS TO HOST NFC DEFENDING CHAMPION FALCONS The defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons (2-7) have struggled this season, but venture into Tampa after a bye week. Atlanta, who has dropped three of its last four games, has struggled offensively (26th ranked) though they return eight starters, including Pro Bowler QB Chris Chandler and WR Terrance Mathis.
"I think you have to look at Atlanta at what their capable of doing," Dungy said. "They've had some injuries that has hurt them, but they still have a Pro Bowl quarterback and a great defensive line, excellent punter and kicker and have been playing well on special teams. They can get hot and we're going to try and not let them do that."