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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs have a new pressing need



In the wake of his team’s 23-16 loss Sunday to the Detroit Lions, Jon Gruden suddenly has a new pressing need – a kick return specialist.

Mark Jones, Gruden told the media at his weekly news conference at One Buc Place, is lost for the season with a knee injury. He likened it to the torn patellar tendon that sidelined tailback Cadillac Williams. Gruden added that newly acquired tailback Michael Bennett could be tapped for return duty.

Despite the missed opportunities in Detroit, Gruden found some encouraging signs, including the play of tailback Ernest Graham and quarterback Jeff Garcia.

“Ernest Graham had close to 100 yards rushing (19-for-92), 100 yards receiving (13-for-99) in his second career start. Garcia, I don’t know if he was 20-for-20 at halftime or close to it (19-for-20). It’s hard to imagine him playing much better. He did some great things. Obviously, losing (wide receiver Michael) Clayton on the second play of the game didn’t help.

"Hopefully, we can get a full supporting cast healthy and ready to go for the second half of the season. But it’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to finish some drives better and we had a couple of breakdowns obviously on special teams that hurt us. There are some positive things to take away from the game; there always are. But there’s also in defeat things that make it hard to swallow.”

Including injuries. The other noteworthy one was sustained by Clayton, who was undergoing an MRI on his ankle Monday morning. The results were not available at the time of the press conference.

-- DAVE SCHEIBER, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:51pm]


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