Injury update, 4:31 p.m.
Here is the injury report for Wednesday — Bucs: Did not participate in practice — FB B.J. Askew (ankle), RB Michael Pitman (ankle), QB Jeff Garcia (back), WR Joey Galloway (team decision); Limited participation in practice — DE Kevin Carter (groin), CB Brian Kelly (ankle), LB Barrett Ruud (knee), DE Greg Spires (calf). Saints: Did not participate in practice — DT McKinley Boykin (knee); Limited participation in practice — RB Reggie Bush (shin).
More on the QB situation, 3:16 p.m.
It's not a cone of silence or a full lid, but there's no clear indication as to who will start on Sunday.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden didn't say anything about the subject other than they're preparing both Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski to play if Jeff Garcia can't go.
Quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett went only slightly further, saying that McCown would probably see a few more reps than Gradkowski, just because Gradkowski has seen more than McCown to this point.
He also hinted to a little disappointment in Gradkowski's performance on Sunday, though he admitted he was happy with the overall picture.
"There were about six plays in that game where you would think he could get those by now," Hackett said.
There's little to go on, but I think if Garcia can't go the starter will be McCown for two primary reasons. He has more arm strength and can involve Joey Galloway in the offense in ways Gradkowski can't. Plus there's Gruden's fickle nature with the quarterback position. Given what Gradkowski did last Sunday, he may be more inclined to give McCown a shot.
Garcia still not throwing, 1:24 p.m.
Saying that he's had "better days," Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia told reporters on Wednesday that he's made some progress with his injured back, but is not ready to start throwing the football in practice.
Garcia said the injury would be day-to-day and that his lower back is still in pain. He compared the pain to something like a hip pointer.
"I've seen some gradual improvement from Monday," Garcia said. "But right now I'm not at that point (throwing the ball). That would not be smart on my behalf right now. I think throwing the ball like that would create a negative effect.
"I've never had an injury like this before. I've had a lower back problem years ago that alleviated itself. I got over it. This is just something that's different."
That put Garcia's status as the starter on Sunday in New Orleans into question. He appears intent on not rushing back if his body isn't ready to go.
"I think if I don't feel like I can be who I need to be as a player, then I can't afford to put myself in that position for this team," Garcia said. "But that's painting a picture that's really not there right now."
Garcia said that he could actually play catch. But it's actually playing the position that would be an issues. Things like dropping back, making full throws and playing with the mobility he usually plays with are what he's not comfortable with yet.
"All of those types of things that challenge your back is my predicament right now," Garcia said. "I can rotate side to side. It's going front and back that's my problem right now."
And there's no real timetable for his recovery.
"Everyone is different," Garcia said. "How quickly I come back comes down to how my body responds. I'm not sure if I'm ruling out this week. I want to keep an open mind about that."
Garcia did say that if his body improves to the point where he could play on Sunday that he felt he could help the team, even without the usual practice reps.
"I feel really confident in our system and what I have to do to run this system. I'll stay mentally on top," Garcia said. ‘Obviously you're affected as far as your timing is concerned and your flat out speed of the game. You're going to have to adjust in a different way due to the fact that you haven't had the reps in practice. With all the experience that I do have, I fell I'd be able to adjust."
Garcia did not say it, but it appears unlikely he'll practice on Wednesday.
The (backup) QBs talk, 12:25 p.m.
Both Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown said Wednesday that they'll be prepared to start on Sunday if Jeff Garcia can't go. What's more cloudy is who might get the reps in practice on Wednesday if Garcia can't go.
Neither backup is really sure.
"If you find out, let me know," McCown said jokingly.
McCown hasn't played since Week 1, when he played two possessions after Garcia had his bell rung on a hit. The following week he was demoted to No. 3 behind Gradkowski.
Gradkowski played last week in Garcia's place, completing 9-of-19 passes for 109 yards, but failing to lead the Bucs to a first down in the second half.
"The ball's in coach's court right now, so we'll see what happens," Gradkowski said. "Coach never really does (tell you what the plan is). He just wants you to be as prepared as possible. You just have to hop on the roller coaster and go with the flow."
Jon Gruden said on his radio show that he hoped to give 100 percent of the practice reps to whoever his quarterback is. McCown agreed that's what whoever the starter will be needs it.
"That's the way it's been my three years here," McCown said. "The guy who starts gets about 95 to 100 percent of the reps."
McCown also said that what Gradkowski did last week is probably "the toughest thing for a quarterback to do."
"You don't get reps during the week and you've been standing around the majority of the game," McCown said. "It's a difficult thing to do."
Both quarterbacks believe that Garcia will do everything he can to get ready for Sunday's game.
"He's working real hard, he's rehabbing," McCown said. "Chances are just as good he'll be out there on Sunday. As tough as he is, I wouldn't bet against him."
Both fully expect the situation to come down to Sunday morning, making the starter a game-time decision.
"If my number is called, I'll be ready to go," Gradkowski said. "I'm sure the coaches know what they want and just want everyone to be prepared."
Bucs make move, noon
So much for Keiwan Ratliff. The Bucs released the veteran corner, two weeks after signing him, and signed RB Lionel Gates from the practice squad. I would take that as an indication that RB Michael Pittman won't play on Sunday against New Orleans.
Buchanon talks about Taylor, 11:50 a.m.
Phillip Buchanon talked about his former University of Miami teammate, Sean Taylor, on Wednesday. Buchanon and Taylor were friends. Taylor died on Tuesday from a gunshot wound to his leg during an attempted robbery of his home in Miami.
"It's weird," a somber Buchanon said. "One minute you're here and the next minute you're not here. I'm still grasping it. It's a tough loss. My prayers go out to his family. I'm still in awe (of it all) right now. He was one of the most talented safety as the University of Miami, and could have been one of the best safeties in the NFL."
All NFL teams will observe a moment of silence before their games this week in honor of Taylor, who was just 24 years old.
Garcia to talk later, 11:20 a.m.
Jeff Garcia's press conference has been postponed to after practice. So we'll have comment from him later.
Getting ready for Wednesday, 10:43 a.m.
It's all about the quarterbacks today, as Jeff Garcia will speak to the media at about 11:15 a.m., and we'll likely get to speak to both Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown in the locker room. This will be the dominant story line all week, and I'll be on top of it with an analysis of Garcia's meaning to the offense, a comparison to Gradkowski and McCown, along with analysis of both quarterbacks from our Scout.com expert, Tom Marino. Who will start on Sunday? Stay with Bucsblitz.com to find out.
At Bucsblitz.com, 10:41 a.m.
Here's two articles to point you toward today. First, take a look at our premium piece, "Film Session," which breaks down the X's and O's of Sunday's victory and tells you why certain things worked and certain things didn't work. Click here to read and subscribe. Then, check out my free article on the mathematics involved in the postseason. Specifically, is there a magic number that leads to a playoff berth? I explore that in this article.
Trotter's season, 10:40 a.m.
Some people probably think the $1 million the Bucs invested in Jeremiah Trotter is a waste of money. I disagree, and I've made that clear all season. Here's an article that really puts Trotter's impact on the Bucs in perspective, even if he's barely playing. Read it at Tampabay.com.
Garcia's status cloudy, 10:38 a.m.
Jeff Garcia said during his radio show that he can't throw a football right now, creating plenty of doubt over his availability for this weekend. We'll get more information later today at One Buc Place, but here's the story filed this morning by TBO.com.