TAMPA — Before Bucs RG Davin Joseph can open holes for ballcarriers and protect the quarterback, he has to block out the pain, lack of power and frustration that comes with recovering from major knee surgery.
Joseph tore the patellar tendon in his left knee in the third preseason game in 2012 and spent the year on injured reserve. A staph infection, not MRSA, was a summer setback to his recovery and forced him to miss organized team activities and most of training camp. He participated in only a few plays in preseason.
"It's tough. But it's coming back," Joseph said. "It's also getting back in football. I don't take a snap in OTAs and training camp and then you're kind of thrown into the fire. But progressively, you get better and better every day.
"I'm probably the roughest critic on Davin Joseph. It's been a challenge for us. Not winning magnifies everything times 10, but I've got to focus on myself in order to help this team."
A report surfaced earlier this week that Joseph had MRSA, but he denied it again Thursday.
"I never had MRSA. I do not have MRSA and never had MRSA, plain and simple," Joseph said. "I had a staph infection over the summertime, but it wasn't MRSA."
Coach Greg Schiano said Joseph is finally starting to get his legs under him.
"He's coming back; playing a big man's position where you need your butt and legs to move people, and I don't care who you are, if you're not able to train the way you're accustomed to training to play your position, there's going to be some (difficulty)," Schiano said. "But the goal is that we just keep getting better and better, and he gets stronger and stronger. If he hadn't run into some side-tracked issues in his recovery, maybe he'd be further along and feel better. But I think, as of late, like last game, I thought he played better than he has. I think he's getting back the feel. You've got to remember, he only played like 20 snaps in the preseason."
"He needs his strength and technique to move these big guys. Like I said, I think he's on that trajectory right now. He's getting it all back."
INJURY UPDATE: RB Doug Martin, who is recovering from a torn labrum in his left shoulder, has been all but ruled out of Sunday's game at Seattle by Schiano. "I think it's getting slimmer as time goes on though," the coach said.
S Dashon Goldson (knee) was limited in practice Thursday. S Mark Barron (hip) had full participation.
SAPP GAME SELLOUT: The Bucs game against the Dolphins on Nov. 11 is sold out, the team announced. Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp will be inducted into the Bucs' Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony for the former defensive tackle. The game will be televised on ESPN, beginning at 8:40 p.m. As part of the festivities, Sapp will receive his Class of 2013 Hall of Fame ring. The Bucs also will formally retire the number 99. Fellow Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon is the only other player in team history to have his number (63) retired. Sapp follows Selmon (2009), John McKay (2010), Jimmie Giles (2011) and Paul Gruber (2012) as entrants into the Bucs' Ring of Honor.
TWIN HISTORIES: Tampa Bay and Seattle each came into the league as expansion teams in 1976. And while the Seahawks have a 7-4 record in the all-time series, Tampa Bay has won the past three and fared better overall than against any other teams from the West Coast.
The Bucs are a combined 8-34 all time against teams from California, going 4-16 against the 49ers, 2-8 against the Chargers and 2-6 against the Raiders, plus an 0-4 mark against the Rams when they were in Los Angeles.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll has never beaten the Bucs, having lost as Patriots coach in 1997 and with Seattle in 2010, by a combined score of 65-22. Tampa Bay is one of six NFL teams Carroll hasn't beaten. He has a shot at Atlanta next week. Detroit, Cincinnati, Oakland and Seattle round out the list.