WR Joey Galloway last played against his former Seattle time in the 2007 season opener
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would love to get Joey Galloway, their speediest offensive weapon, back in time to deploy him against his former NFL team. As it turns out, the Buccaneers actually have two weeks to make that happenâ€¦and no guarantee it will happen in that time span.
Galloway is the only player in franchise history with three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, but he has been limited to 74 yards on eight catches this year by a foot injury sustained midway through Week Two. He hasn't played since that home opener against Atlanta, but could return this weekend against the team that drafted him out of Ohio State in 1995, the Seattle Seahawks.
If the Seahawk game passes without Galloway's return, the veteran receiver could target the following weekend's contest in Dallas. Seattle traded Galloway to the Cowboys in 2000 for a pair of first-round draft picks; he played four seasons in Dallas before being traded to the Buccaneers for wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
As for the chances of that first on-field reunion with the Seahawks, according to Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden it's "50-50."
If that remains true through the end of the week — and so far Galloway has participated in both of the week's practices, albeit in limited fashion both times — a 50/50 designation would likely translate into a "questionable" designation on the injury report. One could consider that a small step forward at least; last week, Galloway was ruled "out" on Friday after practicing just once in three days.
Gruden is understandably reluctant to make any specific proclamations about Galloway's status. Before the foot injury suffered against Atlanta, Galloway had also missed all of training camp with a groin injury that lingered for weeks, and it has been difficult to shape a prognosis of much worth for the receiver's return. Thus, there isn't likely to be a decision made on Galloway's status for the Seattle game until hours before kickoff.
"He practiced a little bit and he's getting better," said Gruden after Thursday's workout. "We'll do it again tomorrow. To be fair to everybody, we'll probably announce [Galloway's status] on Sunday."
Like Galloway, starting left guard Arron Sears has been limited on the practice field the last two days. Sears suffered a knee injury in last Sunday's win over Carolina and missed more than half of that contest. Gruden is hopeful that Sears will be able to practice again on Friday, perhaps in a less limited fashion. If not the team will turn to rookie Jeremy Zuttah, who started the first four games for an injured Davin Joseph at right guard and finished up the Carolina game at left guard after Sears' departure.
"I'm comfortable with Zuttah, I really am," said Gruden. "He's a good player and he's going to contend for playing time, no question."
Only two Buccaneers did not practice on Thursday and they were the same two who sat out on Wednesday, fullback B.J. Askew and wide receiver Maurice Stovall, both of whom are suffering from hamstring ailments. Stovall's injury is new; Askew hasn't played since Week Three.
Two other players were limited in Thursday's practice at One Buc Place: kicker Matt Bryant (right hamstring) and quarterback Brian Griese (right elbow). Linebacker Barrett Ruud (knee), who was limited on Wednesday, followed up with a full practice on Thursday.
The Seahawks' Thursday practice will be held later in the day but on Wednesday they had five men who were unable to participate. That list included starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has already been ruled out of Sunday's game with a back injury. His likely replacement, Seneca Wallas, was limited on the practice field on Wednesday due to a calf strain.
Other Seahawks who didn't practice to start the week included wide receiver Deion Branch (foot), safety Deon Grant (knee), tight end Will Heller (knee) and wide receiver Koren Robinson (knee). Branch and Grant are starters.
Ready for Prime Time
The eyes of the NFL and its enormous national fan base will be on the Buccaneers this Sunday as they play their first night game of the season.
Actually, Sunday's game against Seattle is Tampa Bay's first prime time game since Nov. 13, 2006, when they lost a Monday night game to the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. And it's the Bucs' first home night game in just under five years, dating back to a 19-13 Monday Night win over the New York Giants on Nov. 24, 2003.
The Bucs also have a Monday nighter on the schedule later this year in Carolina and another Sunday night game currently slated for Week 16 against San Diego. Tampa Bay is the defending NFC South champs but, according to wide receiver Ike Hilliard, it will take some more sustained success to produce additional national exposure.
"The better we play the more chances we'll have to play in front of the entire world," said Hilliard. "We're going to accept the challenge, accept the opportunity being on national TV, but at the same time we've got to play good ball to hopefully get more options."
That goal could be realized even before the season is over; the Bucs could also lose that prime-time game in December if the NFL chooses to showcase a different game. The NFL uses "flex scheduling" for its Sunday night matchups over the last seven weeks of the season, occasionally switching an afternoon game to the evening, and vice versa. If the Bucs and Saints continue to play well, for instance, their Week 13 showdown in Tampa, scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff, might be an attractive one for the schedule-tweakers.
As much as teams covet such national exposure, not everyone is hoping for a prime time-heavy schedule. Gruden, for instance, rarely has a complaint about 1:00 p.m. starts.
"We all, I think, would like to get up and play early," said Gruden. "We'd just as soon get up and play immediately. You have a lot of idle time during the day. Obviously the next dayâ€¦you don't get home until late at night. But it doesn't affect me much. I know the guys will be excited and the anticipation of playing is sometimes a big deal for a lot of us."
Hilliard said the later kickoff time on Sunday could be an issue for players who are superstitious, but it is of little concern to him and most of his teammates.
"I think you do the things you normally do," said Hilliard. "It's just a situation where you have to sit around a little longer during the course of the day and find a way to occupy your time, whether it's studying film or relaxing and looking at everyone else play or whatever you do."
Gruden stressed that the time of the game and the number of people watching are fairly irrelevant in determining how important the game is. And it is very important, said Gruden, noting that the Bucs are locked in a three-way tie for first in the NFC South, with 3-3 New Orleans just behind. Gruden's players are having no trouble understanding how critical the game is.
"Every week is a prime-time game for us," said defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson.
The Buccaneers made a small roster move on Thursday, releasing rookie running back Cory Boyd from injured reserve.
Boyd, a big and physical runner out of South Carolina, was Tampa Bay's seventh-round draft pick this past spring. He suffered a knee injury not long after arriving in Tampa and missed most of the offseason workouts and all of training camp. Boyd was placed on injured reserve as training camp opened in July.
Boyd's release leaves the Bucs with three players on injured reserve: cornerback Torrie Cox, wide receiver Cortez Hankton and fullback Byron Storer. Storer was just placed on that list this week after sustaining a season-ending knee injury against Carolina on Sunday.
The Buccaneers and Seahawks entered the league together in 1976 as expansion teams, the 27th and 28th franchises, respectively, in the NFL. In a neat bit of symmetry, each franchise also had its first player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the same year, as Bucs defensive end Lee Roy Selmon and Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent were fellow members of the Class of 1995.
That's one of many facts regarding the Buccaneers, the Seahawks, their 33-year head-to-head history and their connections to the Hall of Fame to be found on the Hall's amazingly dense web site, www.profootballhof.com.
The Hall has even compiled much of that information in one article as part of their "Throwback Game of the Week" on-line series. The Bucs-Seahawks tilt on Sunday night has been chose as this week's throwback game, giving it the full treatment on the Hall's web site. Click here to read the full story.