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Bucs receivers having trouble with drops 'is a downer'

Michael Clayton can’t catch this pass in the second quarter against the Packers, one of several miscues by Bucs receivers.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Michael Clayton can’t catch this pass in the second quarter against the Packers, one of several miscues by Bucs receivers.

TAMPA — One constant this season has been the never-ending adventure when it comes to Bucs receivers making clean catches.

They have made some difficult, game-changing catches to be sure. But frustrating drops have been common.

How concerned should the Bucs be, considering many of the drops have come in traffic or against solid coverage? Besides, they are 3-1.

Doesn't matter.

"You don't like to see dropped passes. You don't like to see anything bad happen to your team," coach Jon Gruden said Monday. "You have to catch the ball as part of this league. We have done a decent job at catching it, although I think we have had eight or nine dropped balls, collectively, in the last two weeks, and that is a downer."

One of those plays Sunday resulted in an interception. With the Bucs driving on the opening possession of the second half, WR Michael Clayton mishandled a difficult low pass inside the Packers 10, allowing CB Tramon Williams to make the pick.

In the Week 3 win at Chicago, WR Maurice Stovall dropped a difficult yet catchable pass that might have resulted in the tying touchdown in regulation. The Week 1 loss at New Orleans was marked by a rash of drops, some in third-down situations.

Gruden attributes some of the inconsistency to a lack of continuity. The Bucs have shuffled their receiving corps for each of the past three games while trying to account for the loss of WR Joey Galloway.

"I think they have been pressed into some tough positions," Gruden said. "Michael Clayton was inactive the first week, starting (two weeks later). … Antonio Bryant was the flanker the first two games, now he is the split end. Ike Hilliard has been steady as always. I am really impressed with Bryant; I am really impressed with some of the things Michael Clayton is doing. … I am proud of our receivers; I think they are doing a good job."

No big deal: CB Ronde Barber has been on the wrong end of several big plays for opponents, uncharacteristic for the four-time Pro Bowl selection.

On Sunday, Barber lost his footing and slipped while defending Greg Jennings. The Packers wideout made a move and took advantage of Barber's fall, catching a 25-yard touchdown.

The mishap came after several unflattering moments for Barber in Chicago, when he was beaten several times against WR Brandon Lloyd. And Barber stumbled in Week 1 while defending the Saints' Devery Henderson, who caught an 84-yard touchdown.

Barber continues to enjoy support at One Buc Place.

"He's had three or four plays that stick out a little bit," Gruden said. "Ronde slipped early in the game. I'm not going to get all bent out of shape over that play. If you watched the film, Ronde played pretty good. You know sometimes bad luck happens. You slip, you fall and you're obviously in a bad position."

Injuries: S Sabby Piscitelli injured his elbow and will likely miss Sunday's game at Denver, Gruden said on his weekly radio show. … G Arron Sears and RT Jeremy Trueblood left Sunday's game with undisclosed injuries and were being examined Monday.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Bucs receivers having trouble with drops 'is a downer' 09/29/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 4:59pm]

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