Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Monday Notes: Clipped Corners

Injured cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Donnie Abraham may not practice Wednesday … INTs keep coming … Bucs honor Community Quarterbacks

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CB Ronde Barber finished Sunday's game with a mild hamstring pull and may miss practice on Wednesday

Last week's 41-14 victory over Minnesota was good for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' collective psyche but somewhat painful in a physical sense, with about a dozen prominent players suffering injuries during the game.

Sunday's trip to Green Bay had the reverse effect. While the one-point loss in Lambeau was no chicken soup for the soul, at least the training room will thin out a bit this week.

"Really, (there were) not a lot of new injuries in the game," said Head Coach Tony Dungy. "(Tight end) Todd Yoder had a concussion, and we're going to evaluate him this week. He's kind of day-to-day. (Cornerback) Donnie Abraham hurt his back on the interception return, and he might be day-to-day as well. Other than that, I think we made it through the game without any new injuries."

Indeed, Abraham and Yoder were two of only three new players added to the Bucs' injury list on Monday. CB Ronde Barber didn't suffer an injury on any specific play at Green Bay, but finished the game with a mildly strained left hamstring.

While Yoder was in good shape on Monday and is not likely to miss any practice time, both Abraham and Barber may sit out on Wednesday, leaving the Bucs without two of their top three corners. The official injury report, which indicates a player's likeliness to play in the upcoming game, will not be released until Wednesday morning.

Two starters who missed the game in Green Bay will probably still be on the sideline on Wednesday: WR Jacquez Green and DT Anthony McFarland. Green is trying to recover from a groin and abdomen strain that has kept him out of the last two games, while McFarland was expected to miss at least two contests after suffering an MCL sprain in his right knee against Minnesota. On Monday, Dungy wasn't ready to say if the two-week layoff for Green would allow him to return in time to play at Detroit.

"We'll have to see on that," said Dungy. "It's a little too early in the week to really know for sure."

Three other players – WR Keyshawn Johnson, RB Warrick Dunn and LB Derrick Brooks – were held out of Monday's very light workout, but that trio of starters should be in action on Wednesday. Overall, the Bucs' roster appears to be healthier, as a whole, than it has been in weeks. Dungy hopes that will help the team in its attempt to improve through better practices.

"In the coming weeks, it looks from our injury report like we'll have more guys practicing, and that should help us," said Dungy. "But that's what we've got to do. We've got to get sound and get better."

A healthy Brooks, in particular, could lead to some improvement on the Bucs' defense. Brooks has been toiling with an injured foot for about a month and his stats reflect a player that may not be at full strength. After recording a team-record 23 tackles at Minnesota on September 30, Brooks has averaged just under eight tackles per game since.

"It hurts us a little bit," said Dungy of Brooks' injury. "Derrick is one of our best players, and he plays a position that we expect to do a lot, and make a lot of plays. He's made quite a few – not as many as we're used to seeing him make – but he's getting better and better. We expect him to continue and improve health wise, and I think his play will continue to improve."

**

Allen Rossum's fourth-quarter punt return touchdown and the Buccaneers' one-point loss at Green Bay on Sunday negated what was nearly an unusual achievement: winning on the road with only 194 yards of offense.

The Bucs were in position to do just that before Rossum's big return thanks mostly to a 3-0 turnover margin, built largely on interceptions by Abraham and linebacker Jamie Duncan.

"We gave ourselves opportunities by forcing the turnovers, and that was probably the one good thing we did," said Dungy. "Other than that, we didn't play well enough to win and we didn't come away with a victory."

In fact, it could be said that redirecting passes is one area in which the Bucs have been consistently strong during this up-and-down season. Tampa Bay's defense has come up with at least one interception in every game this season, and at least two picks in five of the seven contests.

Moreover, these same defenders had interceptions in each of the last four games of the 2000 season (and the playoff game in Philadelphia, but that's not considered part of this discussion), giving the team a streak of 11 straight games with at least one pick.

As it turns out, that is nearing an all-time team record. It is already the third-longest such streak in Buccaneer history, trailing two 14-game runs during the 1980s. The first of those two streaks covered the final 14 games of 1981; the second spanned the last seven contests of 1988 and the first seven of 1989.

So can the current Buc interceptors match that record? Well, Tampa Bay's next three opponents are Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis, teams that have combined to throw 34 interceptions in 21 games. The Lions and Bears, in fact, rank second and fourth, respectively, in percentage of interceptions thrown per pass play.

**

On Wednesday, November 7 the Buccaneers will host a banquet to recognize the winners of the Buccaneers Community Quarterback Award, an accolade that recognizes volunteers who demonstrate leadership, dedication and a commitment to bettering the community in which they live.

To fulfill the Community Quarterback nomination process, the Buccaneers asked local charitable organizations to nominate their notable volunteers. The Buccaneers then appointed a review committee made up of team representatives, media and community leaders to review nominations and select 10 finalists.

At the banquet, all 10 finalists will receive $1,000 grants, the two runners-up will receive additional $2,500 grants, and the overall winner will receive a $10,000 grant. The Buccaneers and NFL Charities will provide the grant money in the name of the winners to the non-profit organizations where they serve.

The winner will be eligible for the national Community Quarterback Award, which the NFL will name in late December. NFL Charities will donate $25,000 to the organization where the national winner volunteers.

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