Thursday, Oct. 4
Searching for RB depth?
Tampa Bay's search to shore up its running back depth took a turn to the waiver wire on Tuesday as a league source reported that the Buccaneers had three running backs in for a tryout — Zach Crockett, Patrick Pass and Derrick Wimbush. All three have experience in the NFL, though none of them have ever been featured backs.
Crockett has experience with Bucs head coach Jon Gruden from their days in Oakland, so he would be a natural fit. The Raiders released the 13-year veteran after the preseason. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Crockett is a short-yardage specialist with 36 career touchdowns.
Pass is a seven-year veteran, all with the New England Patriots, whom the Patriots released after the 2006 season. He gained just 526 career yards and scored just three touchdowns during his time with the Patriots.
Wimbush played two seasons with Jacksonville (2005-06) and managed just four carries for 15 yards. He played mostly on special teams for the Jaguars.
Crockett would be the most natural choice, given his experience with Gruden's offensive scheme and his ability to score near the goal line, a role now vacant by the season-ending injuries to both Mike Alstott and Carnell Williams. Crockett is talented enough to give the Bucs some insurance should something happen to Michael Pittman or Earnest Graham. He'll also come cheap — the veteran minimum for a 13-year vet is less than $1 million.
However, with the promotion and signing of Kenneth Darby to the practice squad on Wednesday, the Buccaneers may not feel the need to sign a veteran back at this time. Perhaps they're comfortable with Darby, Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham entering Sunday's game. Or maybe the tryouts could be research for later in the season if the running game sags.
Trouble in Indy
The Colts injury report looked like a joke, something Bill Belichick might have done last year.
But it was the reality. The Colts had 10 different players not practice on Wednesday — RB Joseph Addai (chest), WR Roy Hall (shoulder), WR Marvin Harrison (knee), LB Freddy Keiaho (concussion), LB Rob Morris (knee), DB T.J. Rushing (hamstring), S Bob Sanders (chest), LB Clint Session (hamstring), T Tony Ugoh (ankle) and TE Ben Utecht (concussion).
Naturally, Harrison, Addai, Morris, Sanders and Ugoh are the biggest concerns. Indy head coach Tony Dungy didn't sound that confident about Harrison, saying the earliest he might practice is the end of the week.
Morris is done for the season. The Colts will put him on IR soon after knee surgery.
I think the Colts could survive Harrison's absence for a week. Addai's injury is a little troubling because it's a shoulder, but his backup played well in his place. Kenton Keith had 80 yards rushing.
Losing Sanders could be the pits for the Colts. With Sanders the Colts stop the run, on average, about 40 yards better than when he isn't in the lineup. The Colts, with Sanders this year, are giving up only 95.7 yards per game on the ground, their best total since Sanders became a starter in 2005. Those numbers are courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
And don't expect Dungy to sacrifice anyone's season just to win this game. He's too smart for that. This game is way down in the pecking order of determining Indy's season. It's a non-division, non-conference game that won't influence any postseason tiebreakers. Plus, the Colts have a bye week after this game, so Dungy knows that some of his players can get two weeks of rest out of this and be fresh for the end of the month, when they play the Patriots.
All of this is a recipe for a steal in my opinion. I'm not sure I'm picking the Bucs just yet. With Luke Petitgout and Carnell Williams out, they aren't exactly the picture of health. But the Bucs chances get better the more frontline starters sit this one out for the Colts.
Links to the best Bucs stories
Get ready for Sunday's game with the Colts by reading the first part of our premium series, "Behind Enemy Lines." In this edition, I answer ColtPower.com's Ed Thompson's questions about the Buccaneers. You can also read what Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia has to say about the game in our regular feature, Press Pass
The Tampa Tribune's Joe Henderson writes about Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and the greatness he has achieved in Indy and the NFL. And Roy Cummings writes about Bucs LB Cato June, who is turning out to be a great fit in Tampa Bay.
Over at the St. Pete Times, Torrie Cox has a shot at a roster spot after his four-game suspension. The shaky status of corner Brian Kelly could be a factor in whether he is activated this weekend. And Rick Stroud follows up on the injury and surgery of running back Carnell Williams, who is now recovering in Alabama after a successful surgery.