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Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line remains in state of flux

TAMPA — There were names, such as CB Aqib Talib (calf) and LB Geno Hayes (knee), added to the Bucs' injury report Wednesday.

But what could be of bigger concern is three of the five starting offensive linemen didn't practice. C Jeff Faine (quad) was expected because he's out for several more weeks.

But with the status of T Jeremy Trueblood (knee) and G Keydrick Vincent (back spasms) in question, rookie G Ted Larsen, C Jeremy Zuttah and T James Lee could play significant roles Sunday against the Cardinals.

Coach Raheem Morris said the team will wait and see on Trueblood, who left last week's game in the fourth quarter. The same could hold true for Vincent, who missed the game.

The lengthy injury list as well as the trip west had Morris altering his practice plans, using the typical heavy Wednesday session as a "jog-through." The team will return to pads today for a more physical practice.

Larsen, a graduate of Palm Harbor U. High who made his NFL debut Sunday, is eager for the chance at his second start and believes he learned a lot from his first.

"You only get so many opportunities, and you have to take advantage of them," he said.

T Donald Penn told Larsen a story before Sunday's game, pointing out how he got his first start, Oct. 7, 2007, against the Patriots, after Luke Petitgout tore his ACL, and now has started 50 consecutive games.

"I said, 'I got in a game, and I've never gotten out since,' " Penn said. "I said, 'It's up to you to do it.' It happens that fast."

MEDICAL MATTERS: It appears Talib's and Hayes' injuries were minor with Morris saying Hayes just has a little swelling. FB Earnest Graham (hamstring), DE Kyle Moore (shoulder) and CB Elbert Mack (heel) fully participated, but WR Preston Parker (knee) and DT Brian Price (pelvis) didn't practice.

NO. 200: One Bucs player rarely on the injury report is CB Ronde Barber, who is set to play his 200th career game Sunday. LB Derrick Brooks is the only other Buc to play as many.

Morris praised Barber, 35, for being "extremely tough" but also taking care of his body, using him as an example for younger players in terms of conditioning and nutrition.

"You need to be a real good player to play that long, and he certainly is," Morris said. "The defense has changed. And it's gone back, and (we've) added to it. We told him what he couldn't do. And he's bounced back from a bad year, and he's gone through everything. It's a credit to Ronde Barber."

HOLD IT: Despite rookie WR Mike Williams' success this season, coaches are cutting him no slack when it comes to hanging onto the ball.

Williams has fumbled three times, losing two. He nearly lost the third Sunday, jumping on the loose ball just before a pair of defenders dived at it. At Cincinnati, one of his fumbles resulted in a field goal.

A specific thing offensive coordinator Greg Olson and coaches are stressing is carrying the ball closer to his body when he runs. Some of the fumbles, Olson said, weren't the result of contact from defenders.

"He's got to get better at locking his elbow down and not letting that ball swing out," Olson said.

"He recognizes it as well, and he's working at it."

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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line remains in state of flux 10/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 10:48pm]
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