DT Ryan Sims is one of the question marks the Bucs will still be sorting out on the morning of Sunday's game against Green Bay
Matt Bryant and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not determine until Sunday morning whether or not Bryant will play in this weekend's game against the Green Bay Packers.
The decision is Bryant's; the Buccaneers are merely offering support, giving Bryant the time he needs to sort out his thoughts on the matter and preparing a contingency plan in case it is needed.
Tryson Bryant, the infant son of Matt and his wife Melissa, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday morning. The Bryants will hold Tryson's funeral service on Saturday, after which Matt can make the much less significant football decision.
"We've got to do the best we can to lend as much love and support as we can to the Bryant family," said Head Coach Jon Gruden after the team's Friday morning practice. "At the same time, when he does get back we'll open our arms to him and try to help him through this the best we can as a team. I know he's got a lot of great friends here in the pewter and red. That's the best we can do at this point."
"We'll make a decision, ultimately, on who kicks when we get to the stadium on Sunday."
The team will prepare for the possibility of Bryant missing the game while still hoping Bryant can rejoin his Buccaneer family for the game. Tampa Bay had not signed another kicker as of Friday but may have to before Sunday's game, depending upon the information they receive from Bryant over the weekend. Safety Sabby Piscitelli, who has taken a few reps in Bryant's spot in practice this week, is nothing more than an emergency kicker and would not be an option with which the Bucs would go into a game.
"We're going to let Matt deal with this matter personally, with his family," said Gruden. "We'll have a kicker on Sunday, I can assure you of that. We hope it's Matt; at the same time we'll let him have enough time here to settle this very difficult time. We'll support him. Whichever way we decide to go, we'll support him."
By rule, Bryant has been listed on the Bucs' injury report this week under the "Did Not Participate in Practice" header. Likewise, he has been designated as "questionable" on Friday's injury report, even though he is not injured.
Three other Bucs are also questionable for Sunday's game: Linebacker Derrick Brooks (hamstring), defensive tackle Ryan Sims (groin) and cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring). Brooks has played through his injury the last two weeks, though he has split time at weakside linebacker with rookie Geno Hayes. Sims was hurt in Chicago while Talib missed the Chicago game after sustaining his injury against Atlanta.
WR Joey Galloway will not play; he has been listed as "out" for the game after not practicing all week due to a foot injury. Galloway was hurt against the Falcons, too. Two other Bucs are considered "doubtful:" guard Davin Joseph (foot) and fullback B.J. Askew (hamstring). Askew was injured in Chicago; Joseph hasn't played since the second week of the preseason.
The Bucs went into this week hoping that Joseph might be ready to go by Sunday. Now that appears to be in serious doubt.
"He's getting better but I don't know if he'll be ready this week," said Gruden. "He did pretty good [in practice]. Like I said, it wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad either. It was a step in the right direction. He's been inactive for six weeks. He's been working at it. He's on the way to recovery; I don't know if he's totally there yet.
"When you're talking about a 300-plus-pound man, there's a lot of pressure that goes on that foot. You've got to test it out, you've got to see how it feels the next day and then you've got to continue to monitor it. Right now, his status is still up in the air."
Green Bay will be without starting cornerback Al Harris, who suffered a spleen injury against Dallas last Sunday night, and probably will not have the services of starting strong safety Atari Bigby (hamstring), either. Bigby was listed as doubtful on Green Bay's Friday report.
Three other Packers are also doubtful for Sunday's game: starting fullback Korey Hall (knee), reserve wide receiver James Jones (knee) and reserve running back Kregg Lumpkin (hamstring).
The other two starters in the Green Bay secondary – cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) and free safety Nick Collins (back) – were also on the Packers' injury report but are considered probable to suit up against the Buccaneers.
Get Out the Vote
The Buccaneers have 67 players on their roster, including injured reserve, reserve/PUP and the practice squad. The team also has 20 coaches, dozens of football support staff members and another 90 or so front-office employees. If team management and Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson are successful in their efforts, all of those people will be ready to participate in the country's democratic process this fall.
On Friday, voter information packets were distributed to everyone on the staff – players, coaches and front-office workers. On Monday, September 29, representatives from Johnson's office will be at team headquarters to assist anyone on the team who needs help registering to vote.
The Supervisor of Elections office will set up tables in the breezeway between the main building at One Buccaneer Place and the building that houses the weight room and the loading dock. There, players and staff members will have the opportunity to register, change party affiliation and/or update personal information.
The deadline to register in order to vote in this fall's presidential election is October 6.
Included in the packet from Johnson's office was information on taking advantage of the Request-A-Ballot absentee voting system or Early Voting. The Request-A-Ballot system allows voters to submit their ballots from home, through the mail, and it is a good option for people who have very busy schedules or would like to avoid busy polls on Election Day.
This year's presidential election will take place on Tuesday, November 4.
Citizens may take advantage of all of these options, including voter registration, at www.votehillsborough.com.
More from Coach Gruden
Though most of the post-practice discussion on Friday centered on the injuries and availability of various players, Gruden did discuss a few other topics regarding Sunday's game.
On the pressure the Packers apply: "I think their perimeter people on their team are outstanding. [Charles] Woodson and Al Harris will shut you out; they've thrown no-hitters in this league. [Donald] Driver and [Greg] Jennings, they explode onto the scene on any given snap. They're awesome receivers after the catch. Forget about all the routes they run – they've got great stamina, they come off the ball, they catch some of the most difficult catches you've ever seen and they keep their feet and run for yards, big yards, after the catch. We've got a lot to deal with. Their perimeter people are very talented in Green Bay. They deserve a lot of credit."
On the Packers' defensive ends: "They're really good. I've said [Aaron] Kampman and for some reason he doesn't get the credit league-wide that he deserves. He's a darn good football player. He's a physical, finishing man. He works hard and his film proves that. He's got four sacks, they're effort sacks, physical plays on every snap. And I think Cullen Jenkins has really exploded onto the scene. I never liked his brother and I don't like this guy either. These guys are good, man. And [Nick] Barnett and A.J. Hawk, they possess the real physical traits that you would expect a Final Four team to have."
On if the Bears took advantage of certain matchups for big plays last weekend: "I don't know about the matchups. Sometimes they had a great play called for the right situation. Maybe our self scouts are too good sometimes, we may get caught in a double-move here and there. We have to eliminate that. That's been a trait that we haven't had much of around here. Hopefully we learn from it and we eliminate those big plays today. The Packers, they live and die with explosive plays and we've got to eliminate them."