TAMPA — Luke McCown believes he has gotten a fair shake in Tampa Bay's prolonged quarterback derby, even though he has made one start and Byron Leftwich will be making his second tonight.
"We've all had opportunities to go in," he said. "I played well last week; played well the first week. You can't ask for more."
Still, there continues to be speculation that the loser of the competition for the starting job — or fourth-stringer Josh Johnson — could wind up on the trading block.
Coach Raheem Morris said Wednesday that such talk is par for the course this time of year.
"Everybody in this league, all 32 teams, around this time starts calling other front offices," he said. "I can't control who calls us. Everybody's interested in everybody else's roster. … That's just talk — that's all it is."
McCown, meanwhile, says he doesn't feel any extra pressure heading into tonight's third preseason game. "I try and take the approach to every game that it's big," he said. "Every game is kind of like the Super Bowl for me. It's how I try to play the game; it's how I try to approach it mentally."
Asked if the Bucs gave him any assurances that he'd still be with the team if he's not the starter, McCown replied: "They told me I'd have an opportunity to compete. And I'm still competing. That's all I know about."
CLAYTON AMONG EIGHT oUT: WR Michael Clayton won't play tonight against the Dolphins, giving the hamstring strain he aggravated Saturday in Jacksonville more time to heal. "It's too early," he said. "We're just going to be cautious about it. I've never had a hamstring (injury) before. I felt it a little bit in the game, so we just kind of backed off a little bit. We're just trying to make sure we don't have any problems during the season."
Morris also plans to rest RB Kareem Huggins (knee), K Matt Bryant (hamstring), WRs Antonio Bryant (knee) and Dexter Jackson (ankle), Ss Donte Nicholson (quads) and Will Allen (shoulder), and TE John Gilmore (calf). He said several others, such as CB Elbert Mack (ankle), could be game-time decisions.
Morris added that Antonio Bryant is progressing well after surgery several weeks ago to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. "He's doing really well," he said. "I saw him walking around here today."
WARD LIKES Rotation: RB Derrick Ward said the 2-2-1 plan for using running backs — utilizing two backs for two series each, then a third back for one series — is similar to the one the Giants were so successful with last season, when they had two 1,000-yard rushers. And Ward thinks it will work out well here.
"I wouldn't see why not," Ward said. "It'll keep us all fresh throughout the year, and hopefully we can keep that freshness throughout and make big plays. The defenses won't know what to adjust for, between me and Earnest (Graham) and Cadillac (Williams). It should work out just fine."
MISCELLANY: Fox's Troy Aikman and Curt Menefee were at One Buc Place preparing for tonight's telecast. … Morris praised DE Gaines Adams for his "nice pressures and great power rushes" vs. the Jaguars.
Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report
Bucs game parking
Lots will open at 5 p.m. (three hours before kickoff) and parking is available in 1, 2, 13, 14 and at Hillsborough Community College.
Disabled (lots A, C)$25
Stadium general (lots 1, 2)$25
Other general (lots 11-14)$25
Campers (lots 13-14)$50
Limos (lots 13-14)$50
Buses (lots 13-14)$50
Stadium gates open at 6:30 p.m. (90 minutes before kickoff).
Crossing Dale Mabry
Anyone attempting to cross Dale Mabry Highway on foot must use the overpass walkway at Steinbrenner Field