FB Mike Alstott may have a new lead blocker on Sunday
No team enjoys a packed training room, but at least it makes Friday inactive decisions easier. The Bucs faced some tougher decisions today as, for the first time in awhile, the Friday four was not determined almost completely by injuries.
G Ken Blackman, just signed to the active roster on Wednesday, and CB Floyd Young have been de-activated due to injuries, as Blackman has a knee sprain and Young is suffering from a shoulder sprain. However, WR Yo Murphy, a third inactive, and DE Tyoka Jackson, the fourth, are down as a result of roster decisions. Specifically, FB Kevin McLeod is expected to play and DT James Cannida may get his first action in some time.
McLeod has been inactive for each of the last five games and had been part of the Friday list for the previous three weeks. However, Head Coach Tony Dungy indicated on Friday that the first-year fullback may see some action this Sunday in Seattle. McLeod has played only one game this season, as the backup fullback and occasional lead-blocker for FB Mike Alstott in Green Bay. That is a role usually filled by TE Patrick Hape, but Dungy feels McLeod's fresh legs and eagerness may be a plus on Sunday in Seattle.
In that Green Bay contest, McLeod helped Alstott rush for 87 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries. The Auburn product, who was on the Bucs' practice squad for the first four games of the season, was given credit for a strong performance against the Packers by the Tampa Bay coaching staff. His presence could also help the Bucs establish the game tempo they want in the noisy Seattle Kingdome.
"We're going to try to use the big backs on them with Mike and Kevin," said Dungy, "We want to get after them early in the game and try to take their crowd out of it a little bit."
Despite leading the team in kickoff return yards and average, Murphy will miss Sunday's game as the Bucs' six-man receiving crew is at his best collective level of health in two months. With Bert Emanuel, Reidel Anthony and Karl Williams all expected to be on the field against the Seahawks, Murphy will be inactive. Coach Dungy indicated on Friday that Emanuel and Green would again be the starters, but that Anthony would see significant playing time.
Cannida could be left on the 45-man active list on Sunday for the first time in almost two months if there are any lingering concerns about DT Brad Culpepper's injured heel. Culpepper bruised his right heel last Sunday and was employing a crutch on Monday, but has improved to the point of practicing and is expected to start. However, rookie DT Anthony McFarland is expected to give Culpepper more rest than usual, and Cannida may be activated for additional insurance.
The Buccaneers must name four more players inactive 90 minutes prior to the game on Sunday to reach the gameday roster limit of 45.