Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris updates injuries, reflects on Saturday night
Had a nice little chat with Raheem Morris today here at One Buc Place.
First, a little business. He said receiver Michael Clayton and center Jeff Faine are among those who will return to practice this week, as early as Monday. Also, none of the injuries from Saturday's game appear serious. Finally, Morris added that Antonio Bryant got checked out by the team's medical staff Sunday morning and is moving right along in his recovery from knee surgery last week. That puts him back on the practice field in about two weeks.
As for Saturday's game, Morris deflected criticism about the early struggles in the running game. He attributed the lack of success mostly to missed assignments, the fact theBucs are still getting acclimated to a new scheme and Tennessee's stout starting defense, which played longer than Tampa Bay expected.
But the play of the wide receivers was tough to defend.
Morris made no attempt to hide the fact that none of the team's second-tier receivers -- with the exception of Brian Clark -- stepped forward to make a notable play despite numerous opportunities. Bryant's and Clayton's absences opened the door, but no one took advantage. And the drops came far too frequently.
"The ball was on the ground a little bit two much for my liking," Morris said. "That’s probably first-game jitters and all that other stuff because we are a team that emphasizes ball security. . . We need some other guys to step up."
Like who? Maurice Stovall, in particular.
"You've got one-on-one coverage," Morris said. "I want to see you make some plays."
To clear up one mishap in the third quarter, turns out cornerback Elbert Mack is off the hook after Kenny Britt's touchdown reception from Vince Young. It was safety Donte Nicholson who got sucked toward the line of scrimmage thinking Young was going to tuck and run. Nicholson had deep coverage on the play but Britt got free after Nicholson's misstep and Young made a nice recognition.
At quarterback, Morris says McCown didn't opt for checkdowns by choice but out of necessity. He said the Titans didn't give him opportunities to go down the field, so McCown took what he could. But even under the circumstances, McCown did little to make a case to be the starting quarterback. Leftwich will start next week at Jacksonville and face the Jags' No. 1 defense while also benefiting from playing behind Tampa Bay's No. 1 offensive line.
One interesting note revealed by Morris was this: On a play late in the game, a communication snafu prevented rookie Josh Freeman from getting the play from the sideline. So, what did he do?
"He just called his own play," Morris said. "We ended up running a play and we got seven yards. . . That's the stuff you don't see. It was awesome."
-- STEPHEN F. HOLDER, Times Staff Writer