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Tampa Bay Bucs' Gruden sees Eagles playing hard against Cowboys

TAMPA — If the Bucs defeat the Raiders on Sunday, they'll spend an anxious couple of hours watching their playoff fate decided by the Cowboys-Eagles game.

And the viewing party is at CB Ronde Barber's house.

"I'll probably go over to Ronde's house," coach Jon Gruden said. "He's got a nicer house than I do."

Whether the Bucs make the playoffs could ultimately be decided by the Cowboys-Eagles game. The Bucs need to win and then hope for an Eagles victory. It's fair to ask whether the Eagles will give a legitimate effort in their 4:15 p.m. game if the Bucs win their 1 p.m. game, a result that would eliminate Philadelphia from postseason contention.

Gruden, a former Eagles assistant, can speak to the heated rivalry between division foes Dallas and Philadelphia.

"I think when you put the helmets on on Sunday, it's anybody's game," he said. "There have been some surprises, I guess, but when you really look at the reality of it, anybody can beat anybody on any given Sunday. Some of those old-school rivalries that still exist — Dallas-Philly — they'll bring out the best in every football player."

As for whether the whole team is expected to show up at Barber's pad, Gruden apparently took some liberties.

"I've invited everyone," he said.

BROOKS RETURNS: LB Derrick Brooks (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis Friday and was listed as questionable for Sunday. He entered last Sunday's game with a rib injury that slowed him during the previous week's practices, but he played through the discomfort. In doing so, he sustained a new injury to his hamstring.

But no one seems surprised he's likely to gut it out against the Raiders.

"You've got to be tough as heck to play in this league," Gruden said. "I'd rank Brooks up there at the top of my list in terms of intestinal fortitude and all those things that make a player great."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Bucs' Gruden sees Eagles playing hard against Cowboys 12/26/08 [Last modified: Saturday, December 27, 2008 5:25pm]
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