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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Garcia still sidelined in practice; McCown ready

Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia scrambles before getting sacked by Carolina’s Damione Lewis, left, during Monday night’s game.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia scrambles before getting sacked by Carolina’s Damione Lewis, left, during Monday night’s game.

TAMPA — QB Jeff Garcia spent the majority of Friday's practice doing the same thing he did a day earlier: practically nothing.

A calf injury that has limited him since Wednesday lingers, prompting the Bucs to list the 38-year-old as questionable for Sunday's pivotal NFC South matchup at Atlanta.

Coach Jon Gruden remained hopeful Garcia could play, but backup Luke McCown has had most of the preparation.

"(Garcia) didn't do a lot," Gruden admitted. "He was limited. But after talking to the trainers and after talking to Jeff, we think he's got a chance to play."

With Garcia not having taken the practice reps as the game plan was installed this week, his effectiveness could be limited if he plays.

Asked whether he felt comfortable with Garcia playing under the circumstances, Gruden said, "Around the league, it happens. Guys do miss practice at the quarterback position and sometimes it reflects in their performance. Sometimes guys play better (because) they get an extra day to heal."

One player who has healed nicely is backup QB Brian Griese. He had extensive involvement in practice for the first time in weeks, saying he is mostly recovered from the elbow tendinitis that had plagued him for much of the past two months.

"I've been working out, getting the strength back in my arm," he said. "It feels good."

McCown has not played since the preseason and, as a backup, had been involved in practice only on a limited basis. But he has been thrust into this situation before, taking over for an injured Garcia late in the 2007 season. Garcia missed games at New Orleans and Houston, with the Bucs going 1-1 with McCown under center.

"(McCown) stepped up last year at this time in a big game and played extremely well for us down in New Orleans," said Gruden, who wouldn't definitively call McCown his primary backup.

"The bottom line is we'll be there Sunday and we'll have a quarterback."

OTHER INJURIES: DTs Jovan Haye (knee) and Chris Hovan (knee) are expected to make the trip but are listed as questionable. OL Jeremy Zuttah (ankle) is questionable but appears a long shot to play.

For the Falcons, star DE John Abraham (thigh) was limited in Friday's practice and listed as questionable, but he told Atlanta reporters he will play.

TO THE TAPE: Tape of the Bucs' Nov. 16 game against the Vikings show LB Cato June is apparently the player accused by RB Adrian Peterson of attempting to hurt him with a late hit to the knees. June couldn't be reached for comment.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Garcia still sidelined in practice; McCown ready 12/12/08 [Last modified: Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:25pm]
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