LB Derrick Brooks won't have to miss any playing time due to a knee injury
If there is a silver lining in Tampa Bay's fourth consecutive loss on Thursday night, it's that the team continues to avoid the serious injury bug. While addressing the media on Friday to discuss the Bucs' current state of affairs, Head Coach Tony Dungy had to spend very little time on the medical situation.
"From an injury standpoint, we're all right," said Dungy. "Randall McDaniel might be the worst off. He's got a little quad strain but we think he'll be ready to practice next Wednesday. Other than that, everyone should be healthy and available."
The Bucs use the coming Wednesday as the readiness barometer because it is the beginning of full-scale practices for the following Sunday's game against Minnesota. If a player can practice on Wednesday and/or Thursday, he most often is able to play in the coming game, though that was not the case with LB Shelton Quarles in this most recent contest.
As such, Head Trainer Todd Toriscelli generally provides the coaching staff with an evaluation of how likely a player is to practice on Wednesday, using the same out-doubtful-questionable-probable scale the NFL's official injury report employs. This is an internal measure for the Buccaneers, decided in the team's training room, which is off limits to the media.
But not to Buccaneers.com. After getting the initial injury information from Dungy on Friday, we also visited the training room. Here's the inside scoop on the players in question.
Derrick Brooks: The linebacker put a scare in more than a few Buc fans on Thursday when he limped off the field briefly in the second quarter. According to Toriscelli, Brooks was in pain from having had a player roll up the back of his right leg. Brooks did re-enter the game and was able to finish it.
The Monday evaluation of Brooks is very good news. Though the team didn't believe he had sustained a serious injury, an MRI examination was performed on his knee to make sure there was no ligament damage. Toriscelli reports that Brooks' MRI was not just negative for any tears, it was basically perfect. Brooks' knee is in outstanding shape and he will not miss any time.
"Derrick Brooks should be fine," confirmed Dungy.
WR Karl Williams: Williams hasn't played since suffering a sprained knee while returning a punt against Washington on October 1, but he may be able to return after missing just two games.
"We could have Karl Williams back at practice next Wednesday," said Dungy, which indicates that the fifth-year receiver has healed more quickly than expected. Toriscelli confirmed that Dungy was not being overly optimistic and that Williams could indeed be back in action for the Minnesota game. His recovery is basically a week ahead of the anticipated schedule.
S John Lynch: There wasn't too much pregame concern over the Bucs' hard-hitting safety, who made a brief trip to the locker room in the second half to deal with cramps. According to Toriscelli, Lynch began experiencing cramps in both of his calves with about eight minutes to go in the third period, and was treated intravenously. There should be no lingering effects.
G Randall McDaniel: As Dungy mentioned above, McDaniel may be the player that caused the Bucs' training staff the most post-game concern. The 13th-year veteran, who had played virtually every snap in the Bucs' first six games, spent several series on the sideline in the fourth quarter, with rookie Cosey Coleman taking his place at left guard.
However, Toriscelli reports that the training staff was more optimistic about McDaniel's quad strain on Friday morning. Currently, the evaluation on McDaniel is questionable for Wednesday's practice, but Toriscelli would not be surprised to see him on the field for that workout.
In fact, Toriscelli believes that the entire active roster will be cleared to play against Minnesota, and that includes…
LB Shelton Quarles: Quarles was held out against Detroit after a pregame evaluation indicated that he was still struggling through his groin strain.
"We hope to have back by next Wednesday," said Dungy of the team's starting strongside linebacker. "Obviously, not playing him is going to help him recover. So, hopefully, this weekend he gets better."
The Buccaneers will submit their first official injury report for the Minnesota game on Wednesday, giving the team five whole days to rest and recover from the various aches and pains. Dungy and Toriscelli believe that is just what the doctor ordered.