The wait to get back onto the field seemed like forever for Bucs fullback B.J. Askew. After an MRI exam revealed he had a torn hamstring after Tampa Bay's Week 3 win at Chicago, the prognosis for a quick return wasn't good. "They didn't even want to tell me how long it would take," Askew said. And he says his seven-week absence was hard. He thought he'd never get back. But Sunday's 19-13 win over the Vikings ended up being a landmark day for the six-year veteran. He returned to the lineup and scored his first NFL touchdown, on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter that ended up being Tampa Bay's only touchdown of the game. Askew, 28, spoke about his return, his time away and his first trip into the end zone.
What was the toughest part of the past seven weeks?
The perception that the guy's on vacation, that he's not into football right now, everything that I wasn't. Sometimes you kind of hear, "Oh, B.J.'s on vacation" and things like that, when in actuality I've been doing a lot of rehab, extra time on the treadmills and the ellipticals (machines) and things like that just so I could come back to this moment and pick up where I left off.
How did it feel getting back into game action?
You kind of forget how it feels. You're kind of anxious for the contact. Finally coming back, I was ready for it, and I was excited, and I was just kind of glad I was able to pick up where I left off. You kind of feel like you'll never get back there. I had butterflies in the beginning, and I haven't had butterflies in a long time.
Did you feel that giving the ball to you for the touchdown was a kind of reward for all the grunt work you do?
I don't think I would say it was a reward. We practiced that ever since I've been here. We've just never run it. When I was hurt, we ran it with E.G. (Earnest Graham). It wasn't in the game plan. It was just something Coach (Jon Gruden) decided to call.
What were you thinking when you crossed the goal line?
Finally. I've always been kind of a halfback at heart, so just to get the ball in my hands, for the coaches to have that kind of faith and trust in me to get the job done, it was great.
It's been a long wait, hasn't it?
It felt great. The first thing, I came in here to check my messages. My mom and my dad (in Ohio) were texting me. They are going nuts right now. I might have to fly them down and do something special.
What did you do with the ball?
Oh, man, I just spiked it. I don't know where the ball is. I could really care less. (Laughs). Who knows, that could be the only touchdown I get in my career. Just the memory of it is good enough for me. I don't need a ball.