TAMPA — Just when the Bucs secondary could most use the help — with the league's top offense coming to town — S Jermaine Phillips looks likely to return from his broken left forearm, solidifying the unit for Sunday's matchup against the Saints.
It's not clear if Phillips would start ahead of his replacement, Sabby Piscitelli, or come off the bench. But coach Jon Gruden expressed confidence Thursday that Phillips will play now that he is four weeks removed from his injury.
"We're excited about Jermaine," Gruden said. "It looks like he'll be able to go."
Phillips has missed the past three games after suffering the break against Dallas on Oct. 26. Piscitelli has filled in nicely but has had a handful of rough spots in the first full-time action of his career. And no one in the secondary is more stout against the run than Phillips.
Phillips is "a really good player, and any time you lose one, the next guy has to step up," Gruden said. "Sabby clearly did that. I'm not comparing the two, but we need Jermaine Phillips. He's one of our leaders and one of our best players."
Other injuries: Bucs TE Alex Smith (ankle) has a chance to play Sunday, Gruden said.
And in New Orleans, the Saints reported RB Reggie Bush practiced for the second straight day, increasing the likelihood he will play. Bush has been out since tearing the meniscus in his left knee Oct. 19.
No contact: Associate head coach Rich Bisaccia, who oversees running backs and special teams, said he has not been contacted about the head coaching vacancy at Clemson.
The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier reported Bisaccia is a candidate for the Tigers, who fired Tommy Bowden on Oct. 14.
Bisaccia has extensive experience at the college level and served as Clemson's running backs/special teams coach and recruiting coordinator under coach Tommy West from 1994 to 1998.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com.