Warrick Dunn to carry the load
With Earnest Graham out for the season with an ankle injury, 33-year-old Warrick Dunn will continue to carry the rushing load for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coach Jon Gruden said.
"We want to put the ball in our best player's hands,'' Gruden said Monday during his weekly news conference at One Buc Place.
Dunn had 127 total yards during the Bucs' 38-20 victory over the Lions Sunday in Detroit. He rushed for a game-high 90 yards on 14 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown, and caught five passes for 37 yards.
Cadillac Williams closed out the fourth quarter and finished with a team-high 16 carries for 27 yards in his first game back from a severe knee injury.
"I thought the more (Williams) ran, the better he got,'' Gruden said. "I thought it was very good for him. He needed that live activity for himself to get acquainted to what it's like.''
+ There is a chance injured safety Jermaine Phillips (forearm) and tight end Alex Smith (ankle) could return for this weekend's game against the New Orleans Saints, Gruden said.
+ As Antonio Bryant has emerged as the Bucs' go-to receiver, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Bucs to find playing time for Joey Galloway, who missed much of training camp and the early part of the season with groin and foot injuries.
"We're hoping to get him on the field more and more,'' Gruden said, "but the bottom line is us trying to find a way to win a football game.''
+ Gruden praised the quickness and elusiveness Clifton Smith showed during his 70-yard punt return for a touchdown and 49-yard kickoff return, saying "it takes a lot of guts to do that job.''
But Gruden said he had to speak with Smith about ball control after Smith fumbled (the Bucs recovered) for the fourth consecutive game.
"We'd like to clean up the fumbles,'' Gruden said. "We talked about that yesterday. That's all part of becoming great, being completely reliable.''