Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris defends Aqib Talib's hit on the Carolina Panthers' Jimmy Clausen

TAMPA — Bucs coach Raheem Morris defended CB Aqib Talib's hit on Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen in the final minute of Sunday's game.

Morris pointed out Wednesday that Clausen, who was attempting a sneak at the 1-yard line, wasn't a defenseless player; he was trying to score.

Panthers coach John Fox had taken issue with Talib striking Clausen in the helmet. Whether it was that play that led to Clausen's concussion has not been determined. But Fox planned to send the tape to the NFL for review, and Talib could face discipline.

"When we play our game, our job is to not let people score," Morris said. "My guys play within the confines of the rules; we go out there, we play. I know the league right now is emphasizing concussions, but you've got to understand, the league is trying to protect defenseless players, not guys trying to score a touchdown. When you run sneaks and those things, people get hit. It's a violent football game."

That being said, Morris said he understood Fox being upset in one aspect.

"It's his quarterback," Morris said. "If they hit (Bucs QB Josh Freeman), if they sacked Freeman and they hurt him, I'd be mad. It's not their fault. It is what it is. That's the nature of the game. But we'll continue to play how we play, and the league is doing a great job of protecting defenseless players."

Talib wasn't available for comment. There has been no word from the league of any possible disciplinary action against Talib; fines are generally announced on Fridays.

GOOD GORE: For all the impressive things the team has done so far, it continues to struggle to stop the run. Six running backs have gained at least 100 yards against the Bucs the past seven weeks, with Tampa Bay allowing an average of 143.8 yards per game, 31st in the league.

"That's getting pretty old," DE Stylez White said. "But we're getting the wins."

A key to getting a win Sunday will be containing 49ers RB Frank Gore, whose 7,846 yards from scrimmage (5,731 rushing, 2,115 receiving) since 2006 is the most in the NFL in that span.

"What's different about him is he stays in all three downs," LB Barrett Ruud said. "He's a really good pass blocker as well as being, obviously, a great runner. He's a good receiver, too. He's one of the most complete backs in the NFL."

STAYING TRUE: Though RT Jeremy Trueblood's right knee is feeling better, RT James Lee might get another start Sunday in San Francisco.

Trueblood, who sprained his medial collateral ligament this month, said the knee isn't quite 100 percent, and the stability of it remains an issue. The team decided last Sunday to give Trueblood more time to heal before reinserting him into the starting lineup, and it could be willing to wait again, especially because of how well Lee has played.

Morris said today's more physical, up-tempo practice will be a good barometer of how much Trueblood's knee has recovered.

"We'll get him out there and let him go out there and put his best effort forward," Morris said. "We'll see. But I'm very pleased with what all those guys have been able to do. That's a sign of a good unit coming together."

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris defends Aqib Talib's hit on the Carolina Panthers' Jimmy Clausen 11/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:29pm]

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