Gauging Garcia, 10:42 a.m.
Garcia told reporters that he was feeling much better, and head coach Jon Gruden said he participated in the full exercise portion of the workout and a limited fashion the rest of the way. This is certainly an encouraging development.
He's questionable on the injury report, which means that there's a 50-50 chance that Garcia will play.
That's almost miraculous considering Garcia couldn't throw on Wednesday.
Obvioulsy, Gruden would not say who his starter would be on Sunday against New Orleans. He's keeping all of his options open — and trying to keep the Saints off-balance.
There may be good news in this beyond Garcia's progress. Say Garcia can play but is unable to make it through the game. Luke McCown has seen the bulk of the practice reps this week and would be more prepared than most backups to take the reins. So if McCown must play, he'll be better prepared that Bruce Gradkowski was a week ago and should, in theory, be able to move the football better.
I wouldn't want to rush Garcia back if I was Gruden. Sure, you'd like to win this game because it puts the division title away (a three-game lead with four to play is insurmountable — unless you're the Colorado Rockies). But Gruden also has to take a longer view. The Bucs are going to win this division in my opinion, whether they win on Sunday or not. The worst-case scenario would be to lose Garcia for a longer period of time and lose on Sunday.
It's a tough choice and we probably won't know until Sunday. I'm not in New Orleans this weekend, but I'll be monitoring news reports out of the Big Easy. If something comes up that you need to know, I'll update this blog. Otherwise, watch for my extended game reports during the contest on Sunday, starting at 4:15 p.m.