According to Head Coach Jon Gruden, QB Jeff Garcia looked
Jeff Garcia hasn't put the pedal to the metal since late July. If things go well this week, he'll be emerging from pit row by Saturday.
That's certainly the hope of his crew chief, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden.
"Race carâ€¦don't just show up at NASCAR and run around the track for 500 miles," said Gruden. "They have practice and things of that nature. I want [Garcia] to get acclimated to the speed of the game. More than anything, I want him to get in the huddle with his teammates. The quarterback reflects the engine of the offensive football team. Certainly we need our captain out there; we need to get him some work."
Garcia returned to full participation in practice on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a calf strain on July 31. He had an encouraging first day on the field and, according to Gruden, looked even better on Wednesday. Gruden wasn't quite ready to declare Garcia a go for Saturday's preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he definitely wants to see his starting quarterback in action soon.
"We're going to see how he feels [this week]," said Gruden. "I'd like to play him. I'd like to get him out there and get him some snaps where he gets the game speed. Everybody needs to get acclimated."
As Garcia pointed out on Tuesday, he can pick up the preseason schedule this week and essentially get as much work in August as he did a year ago. Starters typically play their longest stint of the preseason in the third week, and if Garcia looks good by the end of the work week he could play up to half of the Jacksonville game.
The Buccaneers moved quickly to address the depth on their interior offensive line, bringing back a familiar face in second-year guard Phil Bogle. To make room on the 80-man roster, Tampa Bay released fullback J.D. Runnels, who signed with the team last Saturday.
Bogle may not have attended an NFL training camp in 2008, but he's played plenty of football this year. He just finished his second season as a starter in the Arena Football League with the Philadelphia Soul. In fact, Bogle got very little break from the game, as the Soul's season wasn't over until their victory in ArenaBowl XXII on July 27.
Bogle helped protect Philadelphia quarterback Matt D'Orazio, who threw for 3,331 yards and 72 touchdowns. The 6-3, 310-pound lineman even scored six of those touchdowns among his seven receptions on the season.
An undrafted free agent out of New Haven, Bogle signed with the San Diego Chargers in 2003 and, against all odds, earned a starting job as a rookie. He played in all 16 regular-season games in 2003 and made 13 starts at right tackle. However, he was released by San Diego early in the 2004 season and later signed by the Cleveland Browns in 2005.
After the Browns released Bogle in July of 2005, he signed with the Buccaneers near the end of their training camp. Bogle was released by the Bucs two weeks later but then re-signed after the season and allocated to NFL Europe. After playing for the Hamburg Sea Devils in the NFLEL, Bogle returned to Tampa but was released on June 28. He signed with the Soul the following spring and emerged as an AFL All-Rookie Team performer.
Another Chance to Shine
The first NFL-mandated roster reduction is just six days away, and while it will only require five cuts, from 80 down to 75, it still won't be easy. The Buccaneers plan to give some of their young roster hopefuls a chance to make that cut even more difficult.
Though much of the third preseason game is devoted to starters, as mentioned, the Bucs also hope to use Saturday's contest to continue their evaluation of the back end of the depth chart. That means finding significant snaps for as many of the reserves as possible.
"You're running out of time to make some final evaluations," said Gruden. "We'll try to adjust the playing time to make sure that the players get an opportunity to showcase their skills. Hopefully at the end of the day we can at least say that we've been fair. That's important to me."
Fortunately, there will be one more outing before the team has to make the more painful cut from 75 men to 53. The Bucs will play their preseason finale in Houston on August 28 — a game that traditionally is contested almost exclusively by reserves — and then comply with the mandatory cutdown two days later.