Gruden Speaks: Are injuries mounting?

After Wednesday morning's practice, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden provided cryptic information on the status of two veteran players for Friday's preseason opener. Who are they and what's wrong with them? Find out in today's dose of "Gruden Speaks," complete with a link to his entire press conference transcript.

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What's wrong with Mike Alstott? What's wrong with Michael Clayton?

Suddenly, after a relatively benign camp, the injuries are beginning to mount.

Jon Gruden announced Wednesday that there's a possibility that both Alstott and Clayton may not play in Friday's preseason opener against New England.

Why? Well, that's up for debate, especially where it concerns Alstott. Gruden said the fullback was "sore" after nearly two weeks of training camp.

"He's sore right now," Gruden said. "We told him to take a couple of days off, and that's the case with Mike."

Gruden answered two other questions about Alstott in the same fashion. He did not say where Alstott is sore.

Alstott will be a game-time decision.

The last guy Gruden described as sore, tackle Luke Petitgout, missed eight straight days of practice — or at least didn't participate in the camp's most meaningful drills. Petitgout did not work out again on Wednesday, and at least one reporter asked Gruden Tuesday if Petitgout had a herniated disc. Gruden did not elaborate.

The word is a little less cryptic on Clayton, who left practice Wednesday with a strained muscle, as Gruden described it. Which muscle, you ask? Well, Gruden wasn't saying.

He's being looked at by the doctors right now, the trainers," Gruden said Wednesday morning. "I believe he pulled a muscle. Well see what his status is later today."

Given Clayton's injury history, this is the exact thing he does not need as he fights to overtake Maurice Stovall at flanker on the depth chart.

Petitgout and backup quarterback Chris Simms are the only players Gruden has ruled out for Friday's game. Simms has been nursing a sore elbow for more than week, and has been given work in camp in small doses since then. He worked as the scout team quarterback during drills on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday was the last full practice before the Bucs return to Tampa Bay for Friday's game. They'll have a short walkthrough on Thursday morning at Disney's Wide World of Sports, then head back to Tampa.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors.

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