WR Frank Murphy did his best Randy Moss impression in practice on Thursday
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers understand the dual threat that hard-scrambling, hard-throwing Minnesota QB Duante Culpepper poses this Monday. To simulate that problem in practice, the Bucs have turned to…
Okay, maybe the 5-10 Buc hurler can't quite give off a 6-4, 250-pound Culpepper-esque vibe, but he can certainly simulate the will to run. Noting that the Vikings' passer has already rushed 40 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns through four games, Tampa Bay has, in baseball parlance, given the green light to Hamilton in practice.
"We said that's what we've got to see all week," said Head Coach Tony Dungy. "If the patterns aren't open, take off and run and make sure we're reacting to it. We normally don't do that in practice, but that's something that's going to be critical this week."
Another critical issue will be how the team copes with another 6-4 Viking, electric receiver Randy Moss. Other than Keyshawn Johnson, who won't be used on the scout team, the Bucs, like 29 other NFL teams, does not have a good approximation for Moss.
"There's really no preparation for it," said Dungy. "It's just like preparing for Warren Sapp. How do they do it? If you don't have a 300-pound guy with that kind of quickness and speed, it's tough to simulate. We don't have a 6-4 guy that can do all that. We could use Keyshawn, but we don't want to run him into the ground, so Frank Murphy's doing it and he's doing a good job."
Murphy is a six-foot rookie on the practice squad who does have good speed and good hands. He'll help the Bucs prepare for a third-year player who, in four games against the Buccaneers, has grabbed 12 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Moss has twice caught four passes and had 95 or more yards against Tampa Bay, but he's also been held to a pair of two-catch games by the Buc defense.
"We've played them eight times since (Dungy's staff has) been here and they've had big guys all that time," said Dungy. "Sometimes they win them and sometimes we do. That's always a problem when you go against those guys. They can make big catches just by going over the top of you."
Overall, Dungy was satisfied with Thursday's practice effort as the Bucs prepared for Culpepper, Moss and the rest.
"We got some good work in," he said. "We weren't as sharp as I would like to be. We had a couple days off and we were just a little bit sluggish getting into it, but I think we'll work our way into it as the week goes on."
One player who may not get the pleasure of chasing Culpepper around the greensward is LB Jamie Duncan.
Duncan, the victim of a concussion during Sunday's game in Washington, is being held of practice until at least Saturday (which is like a Friday in the Bucs' normal week schedule) for precautionary reasons. Duncan is not experiencing serious problems.
"That's the real dilemma that we have right now," said Dungy. "Jamie's feeling well, and we're just going to have to see how our medical people feel at the end of the week. He's going to be out of practice today and tomorrow and then we'll get an update on Saturday. I think we'll probably make a decision Saturday."
If Duncan is ruled out of Monday's contest, rookie LB Nate Webster will start in his place.
Duncan was one of only two Buccaneers not to practice on Thursday. The other was WR Karl Williams, who went through a weights session on the back porch next to the practice field as the rest of the team went through drills.
Williams is expected to miss all of October, at least, with a knee sprain. The Bucs signed WR Yo Murphy, a familiar hand, to the practice squad on Thursday, giving the team another experienced wideout to complete drills.
"Karl's going to be out four to five weeks, so we just needed another guy here that knows our system and knows what we're doing," said Dungy. "If we get another injury, Yo will be a viable receiver in the group.
Murphy's spot on the practice squad opened up when FB Charles Kirby was promoted to the active roster.
"We looked at some tight ends and we just felt Charles was doing a good job, maybe a better job than the tight ends we could have brought in," Dungy explained. "Once he gets going and gets familiar with what we're doing, maybe Patrick (Hape) can concentrate at tight end a little bit more and not have to swing back and forth into the backfield. So we thought we could help ourselves that way."