WR Joe Jurevicius appears to be on the better side of 'questionable' heading into the weekend
An official NFL injury report, as filed by each team in the league each game week, has five possible designations, if one includes no listing at all.
A player can be 'out' or 'doubtful,' in which case he's almost certain to be watching that game from the sideline.
He can also be 'probable' or not on the report, in which case he is probably practicing during the week in anticipation of being in the lineup.
Or he can be 'questionable,' and that's the one that drives fantasy football players mad.
On these injury reports, the designation of questionable is officially defined as a '50% chance the player will play.' It's 75% for doubtful and 25% for probable, but of course it's rarely as neat as that. You could almost call questionable everything from 26% to 74%, which is why it's the one excitable fantasy managers don't want to see. It's also why you'll sometimes hear a coach describe a player as 'very questionable.' That's another way of saying 'almost doubtful.'
But if we are to think of questionable as officially a 50-50 chance, then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can only hope the coin-flip odds hold true in regards to their receiving corps.
Three of the Bucs' six receivers are listed as questionable on Wednesday's injury report, including two players whose midseason returns the team has been anticipating for months, Joey Galloway and Joe Jurevicius. Judging from the first full-scale practice of the week, the Bucs are likely to hit 50% on those two.
Galloway, who hasn't played since the first half of the season opener thanks to a torn groin muscle, has made significant progress in simply rising to questionable on the injury report. He practiced last week for the first time and was on the field again Wednesday. However, Head Coach Jon Gruden did not sound overly optimistic about Galloway's return coinciding with Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"He's running around a little bit," said Gruden of Galloway's on-field work. "He's very questionable for this game."
Jurevicius, on the other hand, bears the same injury designation but a more optimistic outlook. He actually made his return before the bye week, starting in the Bucs' win over Chicago on October 24 and catching two passes for 26 yards. His lower back, which required surgery for a herniated disc in early August, is sore, but not in a particularly worrisome way. Jurevicius practiced without incident on Wednesday and said afterward that he expects to play.
Gruden seems to feel the same way.
"We expect him to play and start at split end," said the coach. "We'll see how he feels here as the week unfolds. He's getting better but he still has some soreness."
Charles Lee, who had gained the starting job at split end after Galloway's mishap and before the return of Jurevicius, missed the Chicago game with a knee injury sustained in St. Louis the week before. The bye week helped him improve from doubtful to questionable on the injury report, but he might be the truest representation of that latter designation. It's too early to tell on Lee's availability for Sunday's game.
Plus, Lee has no partner for the 50-50 coin flip. Gruden thus had to get creative – with tongue in cheek, it appears – when thinking of a player who could take Lee's spot if he's unable to go.
"He's getting better and he's questionable also," said Gruden. "So we might need to use [offensive tackle Todd] Steussie as a wide receiver this week; we're working with him. He's capable of stretching the field. He's very athletic. You'd be surprised."
Assuming the 320-pound Steussie isn't going to be running any hitch-and-goes (or is it hitches-and-go?) on Sunday, the Bucs have to hope they can get at least one or two of those three receivers to fall on the good side of questionable.
If not, well it really won't be much of a departure from the way the rest of the season has gone.
"We've had to adjust to too many changes at that position; it's not new to us," said Gruden. "We've had four different starters at split end in seven games, so if we have another one this week, that will be just another part of the growing pains, I guess."
Second-year quarterback Chris Simms, who earned an elevation to the starting lineup in Week Five only to suffer an injury to his throwing shoulder in the first quarter at New Orleans, is the fourth player to appear under the questionable heading on the injury report.
Though the team had the day off, Simms came to team headquarters on Tuesday morning to conduct his most extensive throwing workout since suffering the injury on October 10. The session was promising; even more so was the way Simms felt on Wednesday morning.
"That's been the most encouraging thing," he said. "Yesterday was the first day I've really thrown the ball hard, and I woke up today and felt great. It has been getting better and better every day. If I wasn't playing quarterback, I would have been playing two weeks ago. Since it's my throwing shoulder, it's a strange injury."
Brian Griese will make his third consecutive start on Sunday and has put somewhat of a grip on the job with his outstanding play. Brad Johnson, the starter in the first four games, is likely to serve as the primary backup again as Simms's encouraging progress may not be enough to convince the team he is fully recovered.
(on Chris Simms) "He's getting better but he's not quite ready to go," said Gruden. "I expect him to be very questionable to be able to play."
Simms said he plans to throw again on Thursday. While he might make about 150 tosses a day during a normal week of preparation for a game, he is currently throwing about 75-80 times a day. He is easing his way back to full strength.
"I probably could throw it 150 times but there's just no point in trying to test it right now," said Simms.
Brooks: An MVP Again
Linebacker Derrick Brooks was named the Ameriquest Neighborhood MVP for Week 6 of the NFL regular season.
Brooks was honored for his work in Pensacola with victims of Hurricane Ivan. Mere days after Ivan ravaged the panhandle, Brooks went to work restoring the town in which he grew up. Organizing a collection at the Buccaneers' September 19 home game and pledging $1,000 for every tackle during the same game, Brooks, along with thousands of generous Buccaneer fans, was able to raise $45,000 (to date). Brooks also recorded PSAs that ran at that game and continue to run on local sports radio stations. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Brooks is also planning to donate 100 turkey dinners with all the trimmings to the families of Boys and Girls Club members in Pensacola.
The Ameriquest Neighborhood MVP Award recognizes an NFL player each week during the regular season for his dedication to making physical improvements to neighborhoods in his community.
The winners of the Ameriquest Neighborhood MVP Award are selected each week for their outstanding work in their community. Ameriquest also makes a $1,000 donation each week to the charitable organization designated by the Neighborhood MVP.