TAMPA — When Jameel Cook turned his cell phone back on after attending church Sunday morning in Houston, he saw about 10 missed phone calls on the caller ID log. They were all from his agent, so the unemployed fullback knew something had to be up.
Cook rushed to return the call and learned that the Bucs — for whom he played from 2001 to 2005 — were interested in his services, with starting FB B.J. Askew out with a torn hamstring since Sept. 21 in Chicago. Cook's value intensified later Sunday afternoon when backup Tampa Bay FB Byron Storer injured his knee during the 27-3 victory over Carolina, later diagnosed as a season-ending torn ACL.
"I was excited, man, I was ready to go — I said, 'Hey, when can I leave?' " Cook, 29, recalled Wednesday. "I was willing to pay for my own flight to get here. But they took care of it. And I'm here."
Cook arrived in Tampa around midnight Sunday and showed up at team headquarters Monday morning. When Cook last played, the old, smaller One Buc Place was in use — not the spacious, state-of-the-art facility that replaced it in 2006. "I've gotten lost about three or four times — (LB Derrick) Brooks is laughing at me," he said. "Everybody's telling me to go this way or that way. I've never been here. It's beautiful. It's amazing."
Cook was waived by the Texans in training camp six days after being charged with marijuana possession, later dropped for insufficient evidence. "A lot of people (in the league) weren't sure — you can't blame 'em — but I knew as soon as everything got dismissed and my name got cleared that everything would be fine," he said. "Like I say, I'm just happy to be here."
The 5-10, 237-pound Miami native was drafted out of Illinois in the sixth round by the Bucs in 2001. In seven NFL seasons, he has 14 carries for 43 yards and 81 catches for 486 yards and three touchdowns.
"He took a crash course getting reacclimated with the words and some new terms that we've added since he left," coach Jon Gruden said. "We're happy to have him back. We certainly need his help at this point."
Cook, who signed Wednesday, is expected to play in Sunday night's nationally televised game against Seattle, just in time to witness the celebration planned at Raymond James for retired running back great Mike Alstott.
"That's my guy," Cook said. "I wish he was here right now."
GALLOWAY's STATUS: Asked whether he expected injured WR Joey Galloway to play Sunday, Gruden responded: "I don't really know yet. It's very much in question." Galloway, out since the start of preseason with an injured foot, saw limited participation in practice Wednesday. Other names on the injury report: Askew and WR Maurice Stovall (hamstring) did not participate in practice; K Matt Bryant (hamstring) was limited, along with G Aaron Sears (knee), LB Barrett Ruud (knee), RB Warrick Dunn (not injury related) and QB Brian Griese (right elbow); and Brooks (hamstring) participated fully. Storer was officially put on injured reserve.
MISCELLANY: Seahawks RB Julius Jones had this to say about the Bucs defense: "To me, they have vets and they know the system well and they have good players. What you have to do with those guys is just beat them athletically. I know a couple of guys are up there in age, and that's how we're going to try to get around those guys." … The Bucs signed FB Ryan Powdrell to the practice squad and released ex-USF LB Ben Moffit.