Training camp could break next week with the Bucs still printing a star-studded injury list.
Quarterback Jeff Garcia already has missed seven days of practice with a right calf strain. Receiver Joey Galloway hasn't practiced yet because of a groin strain. Fullback B.J. Askew (foot) and defensive tackle Jovan Haye (groin) are getting closer to rejoining their teammates but did not accompany them to Miami for tonight's preseason opener.
That group doesn't include two starters on last year's opening day lineup on the physically unable to perform list: running back Cadillac Williams and left tackle Luke Petitgout.
"So does it hurt?" Gruden said. "Yeah. It doesn't help you.
"But at the same time, you've got to look at it optimistically and say Brian Griese is doing some really good things and Luke McCown can help us. I'll leave it at that. This is training camp, and you've got to get 80 guys ready to play. We've got to go out there and not look at our scheme; we've got to look at our personnel. We've got to keep the right 53 guys."
Of course, one of the goals of any preseason is to get to the starting line with all your weapons.
But considering how 2007 ended for the Bucs — with many of the aforementioned players not at their disposal — it's a real concern.
Galloway, 36, has a limited practice regimen during the regular season. He also is recovering from shoulder surgery and will need to take some hits on it in the preseason.
Gruden calls Galloway the "White Tiger," presumably because he is an endangered species that's rarely seen out of captivity. He makes the offense go. But even veterans need to practice once in awhile.
Garcia, 38, was injured in a noncontact drill. He didn't miss a day of offseason workouts but had few reps with Galloway.
It's great for the young players and new additions to get extra reps in practice and preseason games. But the Bucs' playoff loss to the Giants demonstrated how hard it is for them to win without their stars shining.
NO JOSHING: Gruden says the Bucs have no plans to play rookie quarterback Josh Johnson tonight against the Dolphins. Maybe, maybe not. The plan is for Johnson to be on the 53-man roster by the time they tee it up for real at New Orleans.
The Bucs are preparing to start the regular season with four quarterbacks — Garcia, Griese, McCown and Johnson.
The thought is that once Johnson gets into a preseason game, even against fourth-stringers, he is going to make a lot of plays, and it'll be hard to sneak him through waivers and onto the practice squad.