Gameday: Bucs at Lions

Sunday's game between Tampa Bay and Detroit is just hours away. Get ready for the game with Bucsblitz.com's "Bucs Primer," the most complete preview package for the Buccaneers on the Web each week (P-Denotes premium story that can only be accessed with a Bucsblitz.com subscription).

Need to get ready for the game? Look no further than Bucsblitz.com's "Bucs Primer." Along with a game capsule, the Primer also provides links to all of Bucsblitz.com's coverage leading up to the game. So before the capsule, here's a look at our complete package of stories this week:

Monday

Observation Deck: Bucs-Titans review (P).

Jon Gruden's day-after press conference (P).

Bucs-Titans chat wrap.

Tuesday

Bucs trade for Bennett (P)

Observation Deck: Bennett's impact (P)

First Look: Detroit (P)

Wednesday

Film Session: Titans at Bucs (P)

Bennett looking for chance to run for Bucs

Bucs work out offensive possibilities (P).

Jon Gruden's Wednesday post-practice transcript (P).

Press Pass: Lions HC Rod Marinelli (P).

Thursday

Gruden still wants improved pass rush (P).

BucsBlitz.com chat wrap.

Friday

Postscripts: Oct. 15-19 blog (including injury updates for the week)

Observation Deck: Pity Poor Art (Valero) (P).

Jon Gruden's Friday post-practice transcript (P).

Behind Enemy Lines: Detroit (Roarreport.com's Nate Camanita answers Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins' questions about the Lions (P).

Saturday

Observation Deck: Bucs-Lions Preview (P).

Behind Enemy Lines: Tampa Bay (Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins answers Roarreport.com's Nate Camanita's questions about the Buccaneers (P).

BucsBlitz.com's Matthew Postins will blog during Sunday's game, followed by a post-game chat at 10 p.m. in the Bucsblitz.com chat room.

Also, as a premium subscriber, you can now access Matthew Postins' appearances on the Scot Brantley show on WHBO 1470, the ESPN Radio affiliate in Tampa-St. Petersburg. Postins appears with Brantley, a former Buccaneers linebacker, on a weekly basis to talk about the Bucs. His last four appearances can be found in the audio section at Bucsblitz.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) at Detroit Lions (3-2)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

SURFACE: FieldTurf

TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Tony Boselli

PREDICTION: Bucs 24, Lions 21 (Matthew Postins).

SERIES: 51st meeting. The Lions lead the series, 26-24, but the Bucs have won six of the past seven games. Tampa Bay owns more wins over the Lions than any team in the league.

KEYS TO THE GAME: RB Michael Bennett likened picking up coach Jon Gruden's offense in time for Sunday to learning Chinese in 48 hours, so the newly-acquired Buc isn't likely to take many snaps away from Earnest Graham this week. Tampa Bay will again rely on QB Jeff Garcia's mobility, and his ability to protect the ball -- the Bucs lead the NFC with a plus-six turnover ratio and have just six giveaways on the season. ... The Lions are second in the NFL averaging 6.32 yards on first down, while the Bucs' defense is first in allowing just 4.25. Looking for more balance, and perhaps less predictability, the team has put RB Kevin Jones back in the starting lineup coming out of its bye. That could have the biggest impact on Kitna, who is on pace to be sacked 83 times this season. The Lions have one touchdown in their past 10 quarters.

KEY INJURIES: Bucs: RB Michael Pittman (ankle sprain) is out 5-7 more weeks; TE Alex Smith (ankle sprain) is questionable. CB Brian Kelly (groin) is doubtful. Lions: CB Stanley Wilson (groin) is uncertain; CB Keith Smith (ankle) has been limited in practice.

FAST FACTS: Bucs CB Ronde Barber is still tied with Donnie Abraham for the franchise record with 31 career interceptions after having two overturned by replay last Sunday. ... Lions coach Rod Marinelli was the Bucs' defensive line coach for 10 years before becoming the Lions' head coach.

PERSONNEL NEWS:

Buccaneers

--DE Gaines Adams did not practice Thursday, but practiced Friday. He is questionable with a chest injury.

--DE Patrick Chukwurah did not practice Thursday or Friday due to a shoulder injury. He is doubtful for Sunday's game at Detroit. Jon Gruden said on Friday that Chukwurah likely would not play.

--TE Alex Smith did not practice Thursday or Friday because of an ankle sprain. Smith would be replaced by Anthony Becht and Jerramy Stevens.

--CB Brian Kelly has a groin strain and did not practice again Thursday or Friday. He is doubtful.

--WR Ike Hilliard practiced Thursday despite a shoulder injury and is expected to play against the Lions. He is not listed on the final injury report.

LIONS

-- CB Stanley Wilson missed his second straight practice Thursday with a groin injury, and it looks increasingly likely he will not play Sunday against Tampa Bay.

-- CB Keith Smith practiced well Wednesday, defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. But Smith still seems bothered by a bad ankle.

--RG Damien Woody, who has lost his starting job, has been taking snaps as the backup center. He has been working on the shotgun in case he has to step in for Dominic Raiola.

--LT Jeff Backus, who struggled with a strained muscle in his side before the bye, appears much better. He apparently was limited by the injury more than he let on.

--CB Dovonte Edwards, signed Wednesday, apparently won't be ready to play until next week at the earliest because he needs to learn the system.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Buccaneers

Jeff Garcia was glad to put his one season with Detroit in his rear-view mirror.

"There's not a whole lot to reflect on," Garcia said of his 2005 stint with the Lions.

It was a year when Garcia broke his leg in the final preseason game and then things really went down hill.

"That was a difficult year beginning with the injury in the last preseason game, and it never really got going for me," Garcia said. "It was an unfortunate thing. I believe that, organization-wise and player-wise, there were some possibilities to do some good things. But we could never really get it going."

Garcia made it back to play in six games but believes he hurried back too soon. The result was that he had a career-worst rating of 65.1 and passed for just three touchdowns and six interceptions.

This week, Garcia stirred some bad memories from some of his Lions teammates.

Lions receiver Roy Williams, speaking to a Detroit radio station this week, was asked why Garcia struggled there. He responded by criticizing Garcia's handling of certain situations.

"He blamed everybody but himself," said Williams, who was in his second year in the league in 2005. "I respected the man. I just didn't like the fact that it would be (the receivers') fault and never his fault. It's always the receivers' fault."

Garcia didn't want to get dragged into a back-and-forth dialogue with Williams.

"As a quarterback, you're always shouldering the blame," Garcia said. "I had no problem absorbing whatever it was that I had to absorb. ... We play this game as a team, and everybody's responsible and everybody has to have accountability. That's where I felt that, at times, there wasn't a whole lot of accountability among everyone in that locker room."

Lions

Mike Martz is coming off his worst game as the Lions' offensive coordinator, and he is being questioned inside and outside the locker room. But he isn't going to alter his approach Sunday against Tampa Bay.

"Here's what you all need to understand, and you do need to understand this," Martz said. "I trust and believe in these players, and we will not do something because we stop trusting or believing in them, whether or not they fail or they succeed.

"The way we do things is our way of empowering them to play at a high level. Because someone stumbles or fails at something momentarily does not mean that we quit doing what we do."

In their last game, a 34-3 loss Oct. 7 at Washington, the Lions posted their worst point total under Martz. Their 144 yards of total offense were their second-fewest under Martz, only two more than the 142 they gained in a December game at Lambeau Field last year. Quarterback Jon Kitna threw for 106 yards, his lowest total as a Lion.

The Redskins kept their safeties deep and dared the Lions to run the ball, but the Lions didn't take advantage of it, at least in the first half. And in the locker room, where Martz is usually hailed as a genius, there was grumbling. Running back Kevin Jones said he disagreed with the decision not to give him the ball in the first half. Running back Tatum Bell, who asked for a trade, said he was frustrated the Lions didn't run the ball more -- and that he wasn't the only one.

"We run the ball all throughout the week, and we get in games, for some reason, we don't run it," Bell said. "So like I said, it's frustrating for all the backs, not just me. KJ, we feel the same way. The line. Everybody. But coach calls the plays. We've just got to execute the plays."

Martz doesn't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with his play-calling. Martz agrees that the Lions have to run the ball better and even that they have to run it more to run it better. But he is actually calling runs at a slightly higher rate than he did last year. Through five games last year, the Lions were running the ball 29 percent of the time. They ran it 32 percent of the time in the end. Though five games this year, they're running it 34 percent of the time.

"You do what you have to do to win the game, the best way that you can or know how," Martz said. "The run-pass ratio shouldn't be the concern. What needs to be the concern is how well you're doing both of those things, and we didn't do either one of those things very well in that game the other day. There's a lot of things that we addressed and I think we resolved."

Martz said he thought the Washington game was an anomaly and that the Lions had lacked confidence lately. The health of key players like receiver Calvin Johnson, Jones and left tackle Jeff Backus played a role, and all improved over the bye.

"The biggest issue is early in the season we were making plays that we weren't making now -- or that we haven't been making lately -- plays that we just made with ease," Martz said. "That needs to get resolved, and I think we've resolved that. This is a game of attitude and passion, and if you're a little tentative or if a little unsure of yourself, then you don't play as well."


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