WR Jacquez Green is emerging in his second NFL season
The Buccaneers surprised some fans this season by keeping six receivers on the 53-man roster, giving the team its deepest receiving corps in years. Over the past week, each of those six has been a source of interest, for widely diverging reasons. Today's main focus has been fourth-year veteran Karl Williams, who made news by moving up from questionable to probable on the injury list.
Williams was not originally expected back for today's game after spraining his right foot against the Chicago Bears on October 24. Though he began the week as questionable on the team's injury report, he was upgraded on Friday afternoon, indicating he may be able to return to the lineup this Sunday. That's good news for Buccaneer coaches, who consider Williams a clutch third-down receiver and an outstanding blocker.
"Karl has practiced real well the last two days," Tampa Bay Head Coach Tony Dungy said. "His play has been really encouraging and we'll see on Sunday how he responds prior to the game."
The news remains less encouraging for Emanuel, who will miss his fourth consecutive game after being named to the team's four-man Friday inactive list. Emanuel is still recovering from a right hamstring strain suffered at Green Bay on October 10, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the frustrated six-year veteran. Dungy feels confident that Emanuel will return on the following Sunday to play against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons.
Though starter Reidel Anthony caught some unwanted attention for a subpar performance in New Orleans last Sunday, former Florida Gator product Jacquez Green continued to emerge as a real threat in the Buccaneer offense. Just as Anthony did in 1998 in his second NFL season, Green is beginning to blossom after a mildly productive rookie campaign. In his last two contests, Green has hauled in 11 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown to pace the team's passing attack. In New Orleans last Sunday, Green ran past a Saints defender and didn't have to break stride to catch QB Trent Dilfer's 62-yard TD bomb, by far the Bucs' longest play of the season.
Rounding out the original six of the Bucs' receiving corps are youngsters Yo Murphy and Darnell McDonald, neither of which was expected to put up significant numbers in 1999. Both have fared well in the absence of Emanuel and Williams, with four catches apiece and at least one big play for each. Last Sunday in New Orleans, Murphy returned the opening kickoff 55 yards to the Saints' 38, tying for the fifth-longest kickoff runback in team annals. Later, McDonald scored his first NFL touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Dilfer and also kept a second-quarter field goal drive alive with an acrobatic 23-yard catch on third down.