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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris pleased with practices of new starting quarterback Josh Johnson

TAMPA — Raheem Morris has had less than a week to assess Josh Johnson in his new role as starting quarterback, but the Bucs' coach likes everything he has seen from the second-year pro in practice.

"It was great," Morris said. "You want the quarterback to have control of the huddle. You want him to have control of the offense. And he went out there and did that. And it was not a shock.

"He went out there and executed his plays. He was hard on himself. He was conscientious of working the pocket. And he practiced like a pro. That's all you can really ask from anybody."

Johnson began training camp as the fourth-team quarterback but Monday was tapped to replace Byron Leftwich as the starter for Sunday's road game against the Redskins. The work began in earnest after the team's day off Tuesday.

"He had a really great day Wednesday," Morris said. "We came back on Thursday and didn't practice as well as we did Wednesday … but he was decent. And (Friday) he cleaned up a lot of things and got a perfect red zone period in there, and he fared pretty well. Now it's time to go out to the game and actually play."

PORTIS FACTOR: RB Clinton Portis, the man who powers the Redskins' rushing attack, has earned Morris' utmost respect: "His speed, his elite ability once he gets out in the open, that's what makes him different. And he can lower his pads. He's not a scatback. He'll run the ball hard, he'll run in between the tackles, and he'll go (the distance) on you."

But the Bucs might catch a break. Portis, who rushed for 1,487 yards last season, is questionable with a calf injury sustained Sunday in a 19-14 loss to Detroit. It prevented him from practicing this week. Coach Jim Zorn said Portis has a 50-50 chance of playing Sunday and would be a game-time decision.

"I'm leaning to play him because he's a force," Zorn said.

WARD STATUS: The Bucs are up in the air about RB Derrick Ward, who missed his third straight practice with a knee injury and is listed as questionable.

Ward said he didn't know whether he would travel with the team to Washington; the decision will be made by the training and coaching staffs. "I'm feeling better," he said. "It's just a wait-and-see thing right now. … It's not up to me."

Ward said he woke up Monday with a sore knee but isn't certain how he sustained the injury.

OTHER INJURIES: DE Gaines Adams returned to practice after missing two workouts with a groin injury.

"I'm making progress," said Adams, who is listed as questionable "I'm just listening to the trainers and hearing them out. It's the early part of the season, and you don't want to take a chance of hurting yourself worse."

Other questionable players are Leftwich (hip), FB B.J Askew (hamstring) and WR Antonio Bryant (knee). Out are C Jeff Faine (triceps) and DE Kyle Moore (knee).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris pleased with practices of new starting quarterback Josh Johnson 10/02/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 3, 2009 6:40am]
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