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Earnest Graham to start for Tampa Bay Buccaneers at fullback on Sunday against Carolina Panthers

TAMPA — RB Earnest Graham will get another chance to show his versatility Sunday when he starts at fullback for B.J. Askew, who will not play because of neck and back injuries sustained in a car accident this week.

"Earnest has done that role before. He's thrived in that role before,'' coach Raheem Morris said. ''We're going to go out this weekend and give him some more touches, more carries and more blocking opportunities."

The sixth-year player out of Florida filled in at fullback last season while Askew and Byron Storer were hurt.

BRYANT IMPRESSIVE: WR Antonio Bryant (knee) said his inability to practice has impacted his performance on Sundays. But after limited participation the past three days, Morris said Bryant "has looked the best he's looked since OTAs (organized team activities)."

DEBUT TIME? Could DE Kyle Moore make his NFL debut? The fourth-round pick from USC dealt with a groin injury at the start of the season, then needed knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

But Moore has fully participated in practice the past three days.

"Everyone else is probable and, realistically, they all could go," Morris said. "They all have played, they all practiced. They've all done things this week."

C Jeff Faine (triceps) and TE Jerramy Stevens (quads) participated fully in Friday's practice.

BIG-PLAY BACKS? The Bucs were counting on big plays out of their running game, and though they have four rushes of 20-plus yards, they're hoping for more. Faine's return could certainly help. "We have to get some big pops and we talked about it this week," Morris said. "We talked about getting back into the (secondary). I told our offensive line, if we are only getting 4 yards a pop, we probably don't need you guys. We can go out there, line up against a defender and have Josh Johnson hand the ball to Cadillac (Williams). He will probably get that, by himself.

"If you can get to the second level, you know what (Cadillac) can do when he gets to the second level. He can be dangerous. He can be tough on safeties, corners and backers. He can finish off some runs."

TURF'S UP: For those wondering how the turf looked at Raymond James Stadium during Thursday night's USF-Cincinnati game (the Tampa Sports Authority replaced the entire field after the U2 concert Saturday), TSA public information officer Barb Casey said they received no complaints from players or coaches. Though there were some ''grass clippings'' shown during the ESPN broadcast, Casey said the strips of turf are 48 inches wide, 1¾ inches thick and 40 feet long. "To have people suggest it's moving cracks me up," Casey said.

Earnest Graham to start for Tampa Bay Buccaneers at fullback on Sunday against Carolina Panthers 10/16/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 17, 2009 6:29am]
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