WR Sylvester Morris, who has missed the last three seasons due to injuries, could see a fourth one lost after Tuesday's tough break
Though he still did not have a full prognosis on Sylvester Morris' injured left knee after Tuesday's second practice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach did not appear to be optimistic about the receiver's chances to play in 2004.
"It appears to be an injury to the knee that was healthy," said Gruden, referring to a right knee ailment that cost Morris his 2001-02 campaigns in Kansas City. "It could threaten his season, when you talk about a serious knee injury. It could derail his comeback efforts."
Morris was hurt on Tuesday morning, during the first of five workouts to be held during the team's three-day mandatory mini-camp. After a very severe right knee injury interrupted his promising career for two years and a 2003 hip injury cost him a third season, Morris had hoped to make a successful comeback with the Buccaneers. He had 48 receptions for 678 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie with the Chiefs in 2000.
However, given that the injury occurred to the knee which had previously caused him no problems, it appears as if Morris could be the victim of another unlucky break.
"It was a freak thing," said Gruden. "He wasn't hit and he really wasn't in an congested area. He just planted and buckled his leg somehow, someway. It appears to be serious, but I don't have the final report yet."
The Buccaneers will release more information on Morris either Tuesday evening or Wednesday.
There were no other new injuries of note after Tuesday's two practices. Several players who had participated in the morning workout were held out of the afternoon follow-up, but that was part of a predetermined plan. Wide receiver Joe Jurevicius and linebacker Ian Gold fell into that category. Gold may only be on a limited plan for a short while but the Bucs will remain a bit more cautious with Jurevicius, who is in the latter stages of recovery from 2003 knee surgery.
"He'll be one-a-day, partly during training camp also," said Gruden of Jurevicius. "But, again, we're very eager to have him back full-strength, and we just want to be smart here between now and the initial part of training camp."
Cornerback Mario Edwards did not participate in either practice Tuesday due to a sore back sustained during last week's organized team activity days. However, Edwards may only be limited this week and is expected to be full go early in camp.
More from Coach Gruden
Gruden addressed several other topics after Tuesday's second practice, including the work of running back Charlie Garner and the state of the Bucs' receiving corps.
On his impressions of practice: "We had a great tempo. Other than Sylvester Morris hurting his knee, I was very, very happy on both sides of the ball. And we got a lot of work done in the kicking game. Our newcomers are picking up our stuff quickly, and the camaraderie and the energy and the conditioning of this team are very good right now."
On whether or not Morris's injury makes the team more anxious to get Keenan McCardell back: "Obviously, Keenan is a guy we'd like to get in here, but I can't talk about this every day. We've got Michael Clayton working very hard as a flanker [and we're] very excited about what he's doing, he and Joey Galloway. The return of Joe Jurevicius has excited us. And Edell Shepherd and Marcus Knight, two young guys, are really doing well. Sylvester's injury is obviously a setback to him, a guy trying to make a comeback. Unfortunately, he's been derailed."
On the increasingly sharp work of Garner, who is recovering from a 2003 injury: "I think if you asked the defensive guys they'd agree that he's a different kind of back. He's very quick, very sudden and the changing gears and cutting and accelerating are parts of his style that we need. The quicker he regains it fully, the better, but he has made great strides in the last month since he's been here."
On if he's happy with where the team is: "Yeah. We've got a lot of areas that we need to refine and improve, but this is a faster football team than we've been and I'm pleased with where we are, certainly."