It appears as if RB Michael Pittman's injured ankle won't be up to the pounding this Sunday
Michael Pittman is not likely to play on Sunday against Washington. The jury is still out on B.J. Askew.
Those two key members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive backfield were the only real question marks on the team's injury report as the practice week neared its end. When the Buccaneers' more detailed report was released on Friday, the situation became a little clearer…at least for Pittman.
Pittman was listed as doubtful due to the ankle sprain that has plagued him since the Week Five game at Indianapolis. Pittman missed four games, then returned after the bye week to play in Atlanta last Sunday. It does not appear as if he will be able to make it two games in a row.
Askew, who also has an ankle sprain, was listed as questionable on Friday's report, meaning his status will likely be a game-day decision. Askew has not missed a game this season and he played through the same injury last weekend; however, he did not practice at any point this week, including Friday.
There were no other significant developments on the end-week injury report. Defensive end Greg Spires, who has missed the last two games with a calf injury, had already been ruled out on Thursday. Wide receiver Michael Clayton and running back Earnest Graham, both of whom had practiced fully on Thursday despite lingering ankle concerns, are considered probable for the Washington game.
The Buccaneers have been dealing with a thinned-out backfield for most of the season, beginning with the loss of fullback Mike Alstott in training camp and continuing with the season-ending knee injury sustained by tailback Cadillac Williams in Week Four. Pittman's injury followed, which cleared the way for the wonderful emergence of former reserve back Earnest Graham.
The Bucs will continue to miss Pittman, who has a broad array of skills and can help in some less visible ways, like pass protection, but they've proved they can succeed on offense with the available cast of characters.
"Well, we haven't had [Pittman] for awhile, so we're kind of used to it, although we would certainly like to have a guy that's very good at [pass protection]," said Head Coach Jon Gruden. "But Earnest has been sensational and B.J. Askew has been very good. Hopefully the young guys have been listening, because they'll be called upon if needed."
Graham, who in the last two games became the first Buccaneer back with consecutive 100-yard games since Williams at the beginning of the 2005 season, should continue to see the bulk of the carries. The Bucs might also try to get Michael Bennett a bit more involved, a week after he was left off the 45-man game-day active list.
Bennett came over to the Bucs in a deal at the trading deadline with Kansas City. He's now been in Gruden's system for about a month, which should help the former Viking and Chief, if not completely get him up to speed.
"He's been here, so he's got to be a little bit better prepared now than he was two weeks ago," said Gruden. "This is a tough process. That's why there are no trades at the trade deadline. It looks good, sounds good, but it's a challenge right now. It certainly is."
The Redskins also released their more detailed injury report on Friday and, as expected, Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor will miss his second consecutive game.
Taylor, who sustained a knee injury against Philadelphia two weeks ago, is one of three Washington players who have already been ruled out. Veteran lineman Randy Thomas, who started the first two games of this season at right guard, has not played since due to a triceps injury. Wide receiver James Thrash, like Taylor, will be sidelined for a second game in a row after hurting his ankle against the Eagles.
Running back Mike Sellers, the team's starting fullback, is considered doubtful to play due to a back injury, and starting right tackle John Wade is listed as questionable with his knee ailment. Of the seven Redskins who fell under the "probable" category on Friday, only defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin was limited on the practice field.
Hamilton Returns to Practice Squad
Twice this season, rookie cornerback Marcus Hamilton has been released from Tampa Bay's practice squad. Both times, the Buccaneers brought Hamilton back quickly.
On Friday, the team re-signed the former Virginia standout, just two days after he was released in a series of practice squad moves. Earlier this season, Hamilton was briefly let go on October 3, then signed back the next day.
To make room for Hamilton on the eight-man practice squad, the team released guard Brian Johnson, one of the two players that had been added on Wednesday.