Gruden has his eye on Smith

Jon Gruden spoke Thursday about the threat that Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith poses this weekend. Plus, Thursday's injury report and the link to our premium service, the Jon Gruden press conference transcript for Thursday.

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Jon Gruden has his eye on Steve Smith.

Or, at least that's what he would have everyone believe entering Sunday's game against the Panthers.

"We're keeping a close eye on Steve," Gruden said. "Even though we're not in Carolina yet, we know where he is. We're watching him carefully."

Smith has been a thorn in the side of the Buccaneers the past two seasons, as he's recorded at least 100 yards receiving in each of the past four meetings.

Gruden knows exactly what makes Smith such a threat in the Panthers' passing game.

"What can I say? We're not the only people who have been bitten by the snake out there," Gruden said. "He's unbelievable, man. Sometimes we've had him covered. We've got the right coverage called, we've had the right people in position and he's still come out of that hole and made a play. Sometimes great players do that to you."

Smith is coming off a one-catch performance against Atlanta, but he still leads the Panthers with 16 catches for 281 yards and four touchdowns, including a 74-yard score. But he'll likely be catching passes from backup David Carr this weekend, as starter Jake Delhomme (elbow) missed practice for a second straight day.

Along with defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, cornerback Brian Kelly practiced fully on Thursday, one day after a limited workout. Kelly has had no setbacks in his recovery from a groin injury and should start on Sunday.

Wide receiver Ike Hilliard (ankle) and defensive end Greg Spires (ankle) practiced in a limited fashion. Neither appears in danger of not playing on Sunday.

For Carolina, along with Delhomme, linebacker Dan Morgan (ankle), guard Jeremy Bridges (toe) and linebacker Adam Seward (calf) sat out practice on Thursday. Defensive end Mike Rucker (toe) and tackle Travelle Wharton (toe) fully participated in practice on Thursday.


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