TAMPA — It seemed curious when the Bucs didn't immediately fill the roster spot created by rookie CB Elbert Mack's suspension. Turns out, they're hoping they won't have to.
The team is appealing the one-game suspension handed down by the league this week, NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said Wednesday. The appeal will be heard this week, meaning Mack will still miss Sunday's game at Chicago if the ruling is upheld.
The Bucs are in a tenuous position with rookie CB Aqib Talib also in danger of missing the game. He was limited in practice because of a hamstring strain.
Mack's suspension was the result of a hit against Falcons QB Matt Ryan, which the league termed a "flagrant violation of player safety rules." Mack, according to the league, "unnecessarily launched himself into … Ryan."
Coach Jon Gruden responded by saying: "They take hits like that seriously, and we respect the policies the league has. I'll just say this: Elbert Mack is a great kid. There's nothing malicious about him."
If Mack must sit, the Bucs are likely to promote second-year CB Marcus Hamilton from the practice squad.
Also Wednesday, the team released CB Brandon Sumrall from the practice squad, replacing him with CB Kyle Arrington, who recently was released by the Eagles.
Stevens IN, Troupe out: TE Ben Troupe was released, a move that followed the decision to activate TE Jerramy Stevens from the suspended list. Troupe, a former Florida standout who signed as a free agent in March, was used sparingly in the first two games, mostly on special teams. Stevens hasn't been permitted to practice during his suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy but said having been with the team all during 2007 and for much of the 2008 offseason means he will be up to speed on things.
"I think that this practice week will be big for me," he said. "Just making sure I go out there and get a lot of good running in, get back into the feel of playing every play, back to back. That's something that you can't practice if you aren't out there on the field with the team."
DIFFERENT D: The Bears will have a significantly different look on defense Sunday. They still are, at their core, a Cover 2 defense. But they have added a significant wrinkle that teams are having difficultly adjusting to, Gruden said. Mostly, Chicago is lining up a host of defenders near the line of scrimmage, leaving the offense to try to decipher which players are blitzing or dropping into coverage. "I don't see any similarities, none, zero," Gruden said. "It looks like an 11-up defense every snap. (Lance) Briggs and (Brian) Urlacher and all the linebackers and safeties are on the line of scrimmage. They have had tremendous success. It's the rage of the league right now. Everybody's talking about them."
INJURY UPDATE: LB Derrick Brooks (hamstring) did not practice. DE Gaines Adams (abdomen) was limited. For the Bears, WR Devin Hester (ribs) did not practice.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]