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Earnest Graham will get bulk of Tampa Bay Buccaneers' carries against Chicago Bears

BAGSHOT, England — Versatile Bucs RB Earnest Graham will get another chance Sunday to do what has always come easily for him: carry the football.

Starter LeGarrette Blount did not practice again Thursday due to a knee sprain and is not expected to play against the Bears at Wembley Stadium.

That means Graham, 31, who rushed for 109 yards on 19 carries against the Saints last week, will provide the bulk of the rushing attempts.

"People think of guys like (the Titans') Chris Johnson and (the Vikings') Adrian Peterson when they think of running backs, and I don't fit that mold," Graham said. "But I've never had a problem running the football or making explosive plays."

With Allen Bradford claimed off waivers by the Seahawks last week, the Bucs are down to two healthy tailbacks on the active roster, Graham and second-year pro Kregg Lumpkin.

Former Oklahoma RB Mossis Madu remains on the practice squad, but his status might improve soon. Tampa Bay also signed former Northern Illinois RB Chad Spann to the practice squad.

Did the team gamble by putting Bradford on waivers?

"No, I'm not concerned," GM Mark Dominik said of the shortage of backs. "I don't feel I took a gamble.

"We signed Chad Spann just to get a little depth there. But I think Earnest Graham proved why he's been a popular player for this organization for a long time. And Lumpkin stepped up. I felt good about what we did with (FB Erik) Lorig.

"There's been other teams that have gone with two running backs before. It's not like we're the first."

MCCOY IMPROVING: The Bucs hope they'll get DT Gerald McCoy on the field Sunday. McCoy, who missed the Saints game with a knee sprain, participated in the first part of a padded practice Thursday morning.

"He was excited (Thursday) to get out there," coach Raheem Morris said. "He looked okay. He was limited (Thursday), so we'll see where he is as we get closer to that football game, but I'm really excited he's back that fast. That just tells you about how much he cares about his teammates and cares about playing each and every game."

DE Michael Bennett (groin) and LB Mason Foster (ankle) returned to practice and are expected to play. TE Kellen Winslow (chronically sore right knee) also practiced.

TILLMAN'S SPECIALTY: Bears CB Charles Tillman has a knack for forcing fumbles: 27 in his nine-year career.

"I definitely believe he's the best there is at doing it, and I've had a chance to watch it up close for eight years," coach Lovie Smith said. "If we could get it down, we would have all of our defensive players doing it. I think it's just a special gift that he has.

"The critical step to being able to create takeaways like that is to attempt to get the ball out. And he's always thinking about getting the ball out. … You just have to know that perfect time to punch the ball out, and he does."

Bucs vs. Bears 1 p.m. Sunday, Wembley Stadium, London TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM

Earnest Graham will get bulk of Tampa Bay Buccaneers' carries against Chicago Bears 10/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 9:55pm]
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