TAMPA — Franchise WR Antonio Bryant is ready to restart the season, and he's hoping to lead the Bucs to a miraculous finish.
After missing the past two games with a swollen left knee, Bryant is probable for Sunday's game against the Saints.
Even with the Bucs in last place in the NFC South at 1-8, Bryant hasn't lost hope for making the postseason.
"We're a long way from getting where we want to be, but we're not completely out of the situation," he said. "That's just what I want everybody to acknowledge. And I know I have what it takes to go and change the whole complexion of a game. I can change the outcome. I just need to focus, lock in and go out there and compete.
"Call me crazy, but in my mind, it's never over. I've been in situations where people thought it was over, and six seconds later, it wasn't over."
Friday, Bryant participated in his third consecutive practice. He hasn't played since the Bucs' trip to London nearly a month ago.
"I feel better. … You're supposed to feel better when you take two weeks off," Bryant said. "That's a long time in the league. Everything looks good. I just have to do what I have to do as far as maintaining good health. I've never been hurt. It's all new to me. I'm just trying to do all the right things to keep from continuing to get hurt."
Coach Raheem Morris stopped just short of proclaiming Bryant's return a certainty.
"It was encouraging," Morris said of Bryant. "There's no guarantee. You don't know what's going to happen overnight as far as the knee. We've just got to be hopeful. But it was an encouraging week for Antonio, as compared to the last couple. … He's looked as good as he's looked all year as far as coming out to practice. You've got to get him into the game and see where we can go from there."
Injury Updates: CB Elbert Mack, who has been battling a right ankle sprain, was added to the injury list as questionable. That's significant because the Saints like to deploy three-receiver sets, forcing teams to play an extra defensive back. If Mack is out, veteran Torrie Cox would likely take his place. But Cox is one of the premier special teams players, so the Bucs may also have to rely on Derrick Roberson.
QB Byron Leftwich (elbow), CB Aqib Talib (hamstring), RB Cadillac Williams (knee) and TE Kellen Winslow (knee) are probable.
FOOD DRIVE: Fans attending Sunday's game are asked to participate in the Sack Hunger annual canned food drive. Volunteers from America's Second Harvest, Metropolitan Ministries, Tampa Jewish Family Services and Trinity Cafe will collect canned goods and nonperishable food items at yellow collection stations outside all gates and club entrances at Raymond James Stadium through the end of the first quarter. Donors will be entered into a drawing to win a team-signed item.
Information from staff writer Stephen F. Holder was used in this report.