Tampa Bay had one open spot on its 53-man roster after they traded safety David Gibson to Indianapolis and released tight end Marco Battaglia on Tuesday, but the team filled it by re-signing linebacker Jack Golden to a one-year contract on Wednesday.
The Bucs originally claimed Golden off waivers from the New York Giants on April 4, but Tampa Bay released him on Sept. 4. With weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks questionable for Sunday's game at Cincinnati, the addition of Golden gives the Bucs an insurance policy and depth at the linebacker position.
In other linebacker-related news, the Bucs practiced without weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks, who is nursing a hamstring strain. If Brooks misses Sunday's game, the team may move middle linebacker Shelton Quarles back over to the strongside and move backup MLB Nate Webster into the starting role. In this situation, Al Singleton would move from the strongside to the weakside to replace Brooks and rookie LB Ryan Nece would likely see playing time, too.
BUCS INJURY UPDATE:
T Kenyatta Walker (Ankle Sprain) - Out
G Kerry Jenkins (Leg Fracture) - Doubtful
LB Derrick Brooks (Hamstring Strain) - Questionable
CB Brian Kelly (Shoulder Sprain) - Questionable
DE Simeon Rice (Shoulder Sprain) - Probable
RB Aaron Stecker (Shoulder Sprain) - Probable
BUCS PLAN TO AVOID LETDOWN IN CINCINNATI:
Some might not think the 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals deserve much respect, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly have respect for them after the two teams met last season.
The Bengals, who weren't a very good team when they faced the Bucs in Paul Brown Stadium last year, sent that game into overtime and nearly pulled off the upset. While the Bucs eventually won in overtime, 16-13, they know the Bengals could have just as easily beaten them.
"It's a team in the National Football League," said Bucs wide receiver Keenan McCardell. "Anytime you get onto the field, you can be beaten. If you want to be good and be in the hunt down the line, you have to have games like this and you have to be able to bounce back. (The league) put us in an adverse situation. We were at home on Monday night and now we're going on the road. You have to be able to handle that and this is a big test for our team.
"It's a new stadium and it's foreign. We have to realize that we're coming off a short week and we need to be the aggressor. We can't let those guys be the aggressor."
Yes, the league put the Bucs in a adverse situation, but it's practically the same hand the team was dealt last year when Tampa Bay played St. Louis on Monday Night Football and traveled to Cincinnati the following Sunday to play the Bengals. The only difference this time around is the fact that Tampa Bay hosted the Rams this year. But Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson said that difference is very helpful during a short week.
"This year, having the game at home does help," Brad Johnson said of the game against the Rams. It seems like guys are pretty fresh right now, so we'll see how the week goes. Jon will be smart with practice and he'll cut down on certain reps. We'll key in on certain plays. We actually have a lot of carry over from the last two weeks. A lot of our protections and a lot of our pass plays from the St. Louis game will carry over into this game. It's not like we have to add a whole new game plan in. It's just adding onto what we already had."
The Bucs, who were roused for the Monday night matchup against the Rams, might find it difficult to get up for the Bengals. After all, they don't play in the same division, they haven't established any sort of rivalry against each other and they're ranked 28th in total offense and 19th in total defense through three games this season. But the fact that the Bucs still trail the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, who are both 3-0, by one game in the NFC South Division, should give the team enough motivation on Sunday.
"Every game counts in this league," said Bucs QB Brad Johnson. "They have a lot of pride. They're 0-3 right now, but if you don't go up there prepared to play, they will beat you.
"Every game is pivotal in this league. Every game is a game that you want to bound on, not rebound on. We want to win this game and move on."
The Bucs also want to put together a winning streak, but they're going to have to do it on the road. Four of the team's next five games are on the road.
"You can't look at it that way," Brad Johnson said of having four of his team's next five games on the road. "You have to look at it as you have one game this week and one game that matters. You deal with the rest of this season after this game is over. We have a big game against Cincinnati this week and that's the only think we're focuses on.
Believe it or not, some players like to play on the road more than they do at home.
"Everybody is different," said Bucs DT Anthony McFarland. "Some guys like to play on the road. Some guys actually like playing on the road better than they do at home. You'd be surprised. It's different. It's real easy to play at home when the crowd is behind you. But when you can go into another man's house and almost take his heart out, there's no better feeling than that."
Tampa Bay and Cincinnati will clash at 4:05 p.m. ET. on Sunday. The game will be televised on FOX.
BENGALS WILL NOT BE THE ONLY CHALLENGE BUCS FACE ON SUNDAY:
If the Bucs aren't scared of the Bengals, they should certainly be concerned with the team's turf. Paul Brown Stadium is in just its second year of existence, but players around the league are saying it's the worst playing surface around. Players have complained that Cincinnati's natural grass surface does not support players feet when they cut on it. It comes up in chunks and gets so bad that maintenance crews must come on the field during breaks in the action and repair the craters in the ground.
Several players have attributed their injuries this season to the playing surface and the Bucs, who already have six players on its injury report, are well aware of the problems Cincinnati's field surface could possibly present on Sunday.
"It was horrible," Bucs RB Michael Pittman said of his experience playing on the field surface in Paul Brown Stadium last season. "It was like playing on a beach. All the dirt was painted green. They had to keep coming out and replacing holes on the ground."
HOCHSTEIN HAPPY TO BE A BUC AGAIN:
Tampa Bay's locker room was a content one on Wednesday. The players were still high off of their 26-14 win against the Rams on Monday night, but perhaps the happiest player in the Bucs locker room was one that wasn't a Buc on Monday.
When the Bucs signed tight end Rickey Dudley to a one-year contract last week, they had to make room for him on their 53-man roster. So Tampa Bay released second-year guard Russ Hochstein. Although the team told Hochstein that they wanted to re-sign him once they made a decision at the tight end position, which they made on Tuesday when they cut TE Marco Battaglia, Hochstein didn't know for sure if he'd ever dress in red and pewter again or any football uniform for that matter.
"The hardest part for me was sitting home on Sundays," said Hochstein. "You feel so far away from football because you're not on a team. That was the hardest part. I would still play football because I love to play football. Of course, money is always a good thing and it comes along with playing football, but I just love playing football and I missed it when I wasn't around it.
He remained hopeful, but became even more optimistic that he'd be a Buc again when he saw left guard Kerry Jenkins and right tackle Kenyatta Walker get injured on Monday night.
"I never want to see players get injured," said Hochstein. "But when they said Kerry had fractured his fibula and that Kenyatta went down, there was a thought there that I might be getting a phone call because I knew they wanted me back anyway."
Hochstein will play primarily at left guard, but he can also play at right guard since both positions are interchangeable in Tampa Bay's offense.
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