McCown to practice
Backup quarterback Luke McCown, who began the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list because of an ACL tear in his right knee, is eligible to practice this week. From the time McCown begins practicing, the team has 21 days to evaluate him.
The Bucs can choose to add McCown to the 53-man roster or put him on injured reserve at any time during the evaluation period, but a decision must be made at the end of three weeks.
"We will probably put him out there on Wednesday and start that 21-day window of observation to see where he is before we make a decision," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said Monday.
McCown, who was injured during an offseason workout and had surgery, has been able to attend team meetings and work out individually at the team facility as part of his rehabilitation. When starter Chris Simms had an emergency splenectomy Sept.24, the Bucs did not rush to sign an additional quarterback because of McCown's potential to return.
"He looks good out there on the field, going through all the bags, going through the drills and throwing the football," Gruden said. "But putting him underneath the center and having him react in a football uniform will be something that we have to look at."
GOOD CALL, BAD CALL: As a Bucs player, cornerback Ronde Barber was in favor of the critical roughing-the-passer call against Bengals defensive end Justin Smith. But as a defender with 20 career sacks, Barber did not like the call by referee Mike Carey.
The penalty aided Tampa Bay's winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Carey ruled Smith used extra force to drive rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski's head into the ground.
"I thought it was a bad call, quite honestly," Barber said. "Bruce kind of balls up for him. I thought it was a bad call, but I've lost a lot of games on bad calls. So be it."
KELLY'S TOE: The Bucs appear to be losing patience with cornerback Brian Kelly, who has missed three games and is doubtful Sunday against the Eagles with a chronic turf toe injury. Kelly has been experiencing pain since the team's June minicamp. He played in the Sept.10 opener and Oct.8 at New Orleans.
"He's not making much progress," Gruden said. "They tell me there's a chance surgery could fix that. It's unfortunate. It's just not getting better and he's unable to go right now. Until he can go, we'll continue to play the guys who are well enough."
Photo of Luke McCown by Getty Images.
Photo of Bruce Gradkowski/Justin Smith by the Times' james Borchuck.
2004 photo of Jon Gruden and Brian Kelly by the Times' Bill Serne.
Click photos to enlarge.