TAMPA — Newly activated RB Cadillac Williams spent practice Wednesday afternoon emulating Minnesota's bruising Adrian Peterson, but that doesn't mean he's ready to play Sunday against the Vikings.
"I think this is a process, as we talked about," coach Jon Gruden said in his postpractice news conference. "It's just terrible injury and it's a tremendous story what he's done."
Williams, who tore his patellar tendon on Sept. 20, 2007, at Carolina, was officially activated Wednesday from the physically unable to perform list. And, according to Gruden, he looked good in his prescribed role: carrying 30 times as a Peterson stand-in.
"Let's be honest, Monday was the first time he got hit since last year in Carolina," he said. "Nobody's expecting him to be the featured back this week. Don't know about game-day activations at this point. We're just going to try to get him back; we're doing the best we can. We've studied it. We've really done, I think, the right thing and again, his role this Sunday is to be announced.''
"It's just good to be back out here and see what happens," said Williams, the 2005 offensive rookie of the year. "I feel good, but at the same time like the coach says, we want to be smart about the whole thing."
Williams' return meant the end of the line for swift RB Michael Bennett, who played sparingly after being acquired last season from Kansas City and was claimed on waivers Wednesday by the Chargers. And with starter Earnest Graham still ailing from a knee injury, veteran Warrick Dunn — sidelined recently with a pinched nerve in his back — could see more action along with rookie Clifton Smith.
Asked why Bennett didn't run the ball more during his brief tenure, Gruden responded: "He did participate. He started a game or two. He was brought in here — we had a rash of injuries. Cadillac went down. (Michael) Pittman went down. Earnest Graham did a great job. … I like Mike Bennett. We just can't keep five halfbacks. Clifton Smith's a player. He's going to play for us. Warrick Dunn is a hell of a back. And Earnest Graham has proven to everybody he's a real back. And when you add Carnell Williams to the mix, sometimes numbers are what they are."
In addition to running back moves, the Bucs also made changes in the WR corps: Maurice Stovall was placed on injured reserve (hamstring) and Brian Clark, a former Chamberlain High star, was activated from the practice squad.
Veteran Ike Hilliard practiced and is expected to play in spite of headaches he is still experiencing from a helmet-to-helmet collision against Seattle on Oct. 19. "He's going to play, knowing Ike," Gruden said. "He's special; he's really special. I wish he felt better all the time. But that guy is unbelievable. He'll find a way to play in my opinion, but we'll see."
CLARK ROLLER COASTER: On Oct. 18, the third-year pro out of North Carolina State was called up to the active roster. On Monday, he was released and re-signed to the practice squad. But Wednesday, Clark, 24, was notified that he was being brought back up to the 53-man roster.
The move couldn't have come at a better time, as he and his wife are expecting a boy in a week — and a game-day paycheck will be considerably higher than his practice-squad pay.
"It's the thing that makes the NFL the NFL," said the 6-foot-2, 204-pound receiver. "The economy the way it is, a lot of people aren't willing to just lose their job at the drop of a hat. Everyone wants security. But in this league, you don't get that luxury. Ultimately for me it's a matter of faith."
INJURY REPORT: TE Alex Smith (ankle) and S Jermaine Phillips (forearm) did not practice. Four saw limited participation: LB Derrick Brooks (knee), Graham (knee), QB Brian Griese (elbow) and DL Jimmy Wilkerson (illness). FB B.J. Askew (hamstring), Dunn (back) and Hilliard (shoulder) participated fully.