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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Gruden concerned about running game



Jon Gruden expressed concern about injuries to running back Earnest Graham and tight end Alex Smith during his weekly news conference Monday at One Buc Place.

Graham injured a knee during the Bucs' 30-27 overtime win over the Chiefs Sunday in Kansas City and is being evaluated, Gruden said. His status is uncertain.

Smith left with an ankle sprain after making a sliding catch on a two-point conversion pass with 19 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. He is being evaluated.

"Those two guys in particular we're worried about,'' Gruden said.

With running back Warrick Dunn (back) and fullback B.J. Askew (hamstring) already sidelined, this week's bye couldn't come at a better time for the Bucs' ground game.

"The bye, I think, it's going to help us,'' Gruden said. "Our running back situation in particular is very concerning for us.''

While they wait for their injured players to return, help could come from a couple of unexpected places.

The Bucs got a lift on Sunday from Clifton Smith, an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State who was promoted from the practice squad little more than a week ago. Smith returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, ran for 17 yards and caught a pass.

"He helped us not only in the kicking game, but from scrimmage,'' Gruden said. On those final couple drives, you saw a lot of Clifton Smith as a runner and receiver, picking up the blitz. ... It's a real credit to him.''

Also, Cadillac Williams, sidelined more than a year with a devastating knee injury, will be on the field in pads this week and ''could possibly be of help to the team,'' Gruden said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:16pm]


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