FB Mike Alstott had to be happy to get the cast off his left leg on Thursday
Tampa Bay's injury report hit double digits on Sunday, and that's one count the Buccaneers aren't looking to inflate. Still, the overall picture was fairly positive.
The tenth Buccaneer to appear on the list was DE Chidi Ahanotu, who was added on Thursday due to a knee sprain. According to the Buccaneers' training staff, Ahanotu has had ongoing mild trouble with his right knee and he recently aggravated it. It is not considered serious and Ahanotu could be back in action on Friday.
"Chidi and Brian Kelly sat out practice today but we're hopeful that both of them will be able to play," said Head Coach Tony Dungy. "Aaron Stecker also sat out. He's probably the farthest away from playing, but other than that we had everybody going and we had good work."
The club also believes that DE Steve White, who, like Stecker, is considered questionable on the injury report, has a good chance to return to action on Sunday after missing last week's game against Buffalo. However, it can't be considered a positive sign that Kelly didn't practice Thursday as it was originally hoped he would.
"We didn't know for sure (if Kelly would practice on Thursday) but we were hopeful," said Dungy. "We'll see what he's able to do tomorrow and hopefully have an idea if he'll be ready for Sunday."
If Kelly is sidelined by the hamstring injury he incurred against the Bills, it would mean increased activity for a pair of young reserve defensive backs.
"Dexter (Jackson) would play a little more, Floyd Young would play more," said Dungy. "We've got enough guys on the corner as long as we don't get another safety hurt."
Topping that 10-person injury list, of course, is FB Mike Alstott, who is definitely out for Sunday and won't be back during the regular season due to the knee sprain he suffered at Chicago on November 19. However, Alstott did pass one step in his rehabilitation on Thursday when he got the cast off his leg.
"He did, and I have not seen him since he got it off, but I think that's a good sign," said Dungy. "We'll start the rehab process and see where he is. I know he's happy to have a little more movement."
It is an important step in the process, said the team's training staff, because, as Dungy mentioned, Alstott's rehabilitation can now begin. It doesn't mean his recovery is ahead of schedule, but it is definitely on schedule.
"We're hoping, best-case scenario, that he would be available for the last game (of the playoffs)," said Dungy. "But I think we'll know more about that in two weeks."