FB Mike Alstott got extra work in practice Friday with Warrick Dunn sitting it out; Dunn is not expected to play Sunday
Friday's practice at One Buccaneer Place started without running back Warrick Dunn, which means Sunday's game probably will, too.
Dunn was still in the training room when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began to pass and run the ball late Friday morning, and though he joined the team onfield a few minutes later, it was in sweats and running shoes.
Afterward, Head Coach Tony Dungy made it clear that he does not expect Dunn to play against the Vikings this weekend, and the same holds true for WR Jacquez Green (groin strain).
"Warrick did not practice and Jacquez didn't practice," said Dungy. "I would say there be doubtful, but other than that we have a shot to have everyone else.
"Really, Warrick and 'Quez, unless they had a miracle recovery, probably would not play. Right now, we're saying doubtful. We haven't ruled them out, but we're as close to that as we can be, I guess."
Friday is often the best determinant for a player's readiness for Sunday, and neither Dunn nor Green looked close to ready for the final full-scale practice of the week. Dungy was concerned both about their productiveness on Sunday and their potential for further injury.
"Today they couldn't go, couldn't run," he said. "Unless they can run full speed by Sunday, we shouldn't play them. If they're not running full speed, it's tough to get anything done and you are more vulnerable (to injury)."
This is the Buccaneers' final season as part of the NFC Central Division, but Dunn keeps seeing dates on his farewell tour cancelled. A foot sprain suffered against Minnesota a month ago caused him to miss the Bucs' home opener with Green Bay on October 7. In that contest, FB Mike Alstott carried 15 times for 77 yards, including a late-game 39-yard breakaway that scored the winning points in a 14-10 decision. It is likely that Alstott will be the primary ballcarrier again this Sunday against the Vikings, though running backs Aaron Stecker and Rabih Abdullah may also get their shots.
With Dunn entering the season as the designated number one rusher for the Bucs' new offense under coordinator Clyde Christensen, Alstott has found his carries somewhat limited. He has averaged just over six carries per contest so far, picking up 132 yards and one touchdown on 31 carries. He has averaged an impressive 4.3 yards per carry.
|at Dallas, 9/9||5||12||2.4||3||0|
|at Minnesota, 9/30||3||24||8.0||12||0|
|vs. Green Bay, 10/7 *||15||77||5.1||39||1|
|at Tennessee, 10/14||5||4||0.8||4||0|
|vs. Pittsburgh, 10/21||3||15||5.0||12||0|
- started at tailback; all other games, started at fullback
The rest of the Bucs' injury news was more positive, though linebacker Derrick Brooks' name did an unusual yo-yo up and down the injury report on Friday.
Brooks participated in about half of Thursday's practice but didn't fare well in that workout on his sprained left foot. As a result, the training staff downgraded his status on the injury report from probable to questionable, potentially throwing into doubt the linebacker's availability for Sunday. However, he showed an equally large amount of improvement on Friday and was thus moved back to probable after the morning practice. That's an injury report journey you won't see often.
Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who started the week as questionable but has since been upgraded, also continued his path towards playing against the Vikings.
"Derrick practiced today and went through," said Dungy. "He's doing fine and should be okay by game time, I think. Keyshawn practiced and went through. We'll see how they are tomorrow but they look like they could be able to play."
That would mean the Bucs would still have the NFC's leading receiver in the lineup, though his starting mate, Green, will probably sit the game out. If he does, fifth-year wideout Reidel Anthony would take his place. Anthony has 34 career starts with the Buccaneers, two more than Green.
The Bucs' full injury report can be found here.