Bucs WR Antonio Bryant probable for Saints; CB Mack questionable
Antonio Bryant hasn't played a down of football since the Bucs trip to London nearly a month ago.
But after missing the last two games with a swollen left knee, Bryant is probable for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. The Bucs franchise player participated in his third consecutive practice Friday.
"I feel better...You’re supposed to feel better when you take two weeks off,'' Bryant said. "That’s a long time in the league. Everything looks good. I just have to do what I have to do as far as maintaining good health. I’ve never been hurt. It’s all new to me. I’m just trying to do all the right things to keep from continuing to get hurt.
"We’re a long way from getting where we want to be, but we’re not completely out of the situation. That’s just what I want everybody to acknowledge. And I know I have what it takes to go and change the whole complexion of a game. I can change the outcome. I just need to focus, lock in and go out there and compete.''
Coach Raheem Morris stopped just short of proclaiming Bryant's return was a certainty.
"It was encouraging,'' Morris said of Bryant. "There's no guarantee, you don't know what's going to happen overnight as far as the knee. We've just got to be hopeful and be wishful. But it was an encouraging week for Antonio as compared to the last couple.
"He looked decent. He's looked as good as he's looked all year as far as coming out to practice. You've got to get him into the game and see where we can go from there.''
Meanwhile, cornerback Elbert Mack, who has been battling a right ankle sprain, was added to the injury list as questionable.
"He's been fighting it and banged it again. We've just got to get to the game and make a game-time decision,'' Morris said of Mack.
That's signifant because the Saints like to deploy three receiver sets, forcing teams to play an extra defensive back. If Mack is out, veteran Torrie Cox would like take his place. But Cox is one of the Bucs' premier special teams players and the Bucs may also have to rely on Derrick Roberson.
Quarterback Byron Leftwich (elbow), CB Aqib Talib (hamstring), RB Cadillac Williams (knee) and TE Kellen Winslow (knee) are probable.
Bryant is fourth on the Bucs in receiving with 16 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Even with the Bucs at 1-8, he insists he's not giving up on his team making the post-season.
"I want to go out the best we can go out,'' Bryant said. "Call me crazy, but in my mind, it’s never over. I’ve been in situations where people thought it was over, and six seconds later, it wasn’t over. And I’ve caught game-winners numerous times. It’s a mindset. I think I know how to get into that zone. I want this to be the longest seven games in the history of my career. Definitely it’s got to be the best, from all of us.''