Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sigh of Relief: Cash Not Seriously Hurt

LB Antoine Cash did injure his neck in a scary collision with a teammate on Saturday, but it's a muscular ailment and it won't threaten his career or the 2008 season…Plus additional injury updates

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LB Antoine Cash may miss a week or two but his injury from Saturday won't keep him out of uniform long

As frightening as his collision with teammate Marcus Hamilton was on Saturday night, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Antoine Cash has escaped serious injury.

That news, relayed on Monday afternoon, relieved Head Coach Jon Gruden on Saturday night.

"He's going to be okay," said Gruden. "Obviously, he'll be out for a couple weeks but it's not anything that we know to be serious, and we're really thrilled to get that news. He has a sore neck and hopefully he gets better here in the coming days."

In Saturday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cash attempted to tackle wide receiver Troy Williamson but instead ran into Hamilton's leg. The impact thrust his head backward and left him lying on the turf, and the Buccaneers' medical staff immediately moved to stabilize his head and neck.

Cash was taken to a nearby hospital and kept overnight, but he was released in the morning. The fourth-year linebacker won't play in Houston this week but shouldn't feel any long-term effects of his collision with Hamilton.

"We're just calling it a sore neck, really," said Gruden. "Nothing serious, nothing structural — we feel great about that. But it will be most likely a week to 10 days before he can play again."

Gruden had similar news on Hamilton, who was able to limp off the field with help but obviously wasn't in any life-threatening danger. It appears that the first-year cornerback will also avoid missing a significant amount of time, though he is unlikely to play in Houston.

"Yeah he's got a hip pointer," said Gruden. "It's not a serious injury, but he will be very doubtful this week in the ballgame."

Since Cash's injury is thankfully not serious, the more immediate issue might be depth at the middle linebacker position, especially in the preseason finale on Thursday, when starters typically exit the game early. Fortunately Matt McCoy, the man Cash has been battling for the primary reserve spot behind starting middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, looks more than capable of shouldering the load on Thursday.

"He played really good in the [Jacksonville] game," said Gruden of Cash. "It's not an easy defense to come in as a middle linebacker and make all the calls and adjustments when a shift occurs. He's picking that up, and he made a lot of plays. He's a physical linebacker and he can play in every situation. So he's doing well and he's also a good teams guy."

Gruden shared more encouraging news on the injury front Tuesday, including his belief that starting fullback B.J. Askew will be back in action in a week. Askew hasn't played in the preseason due to a foot injury, but the team was willing to live with that inconvenience in order to get the rugged blocker in top shape for the games that count.

"He'll be back on the field Monday," said Gruden. "I just talked to B.J. before practice; he's doing extremely well and the great thing about this injury is he'll be 100 percent, I believe, ready to go for the regular season. It's been awkward a little bit not having him around, but we did the right thing I think getting him well. We'll try to get him a lot of snaps Monday and Tuesday in our bonus days next week."

Askew's absence this preseason has meant a lot of extra work for second-year fullback Byron Storer, who has impressed the team's staff with his play on the first-team offense. Similarly, a couple of ailing veterans in the receiving corps is less a cause for concern and more an opportunity for young players to dominate the playing time on Thursday.

Antonio Bryant was held out of Saturday's game against Jacksonville due to swelling in his knee, and might take another week off. Michael Clayton started the Jaguar game and scored a touchdown but left with a sore chest. He's a question mark for Thursday, as well.

"We think he's got a chance to play," said Gruden of Clayton. "There are several guys that were limited or weren't able to go today. Hopefully we'll have them back tomorrow.

"I think the best thing we could do [for Bryant] last week was rest him. It's nothing structural, we don't believe, or serious but he is sore and he needs some time. He didn't do much today and if [the knee] doesn't make tremendous improvement we might just hold him this final preseason game."

The Buccaneers wrap up their preseason on Thursday with a road game against the Houston Texans, kicking off at 8:00 p.m. ET.

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