Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback B.J. Askew sat near his locker on Thursday with a hard cast on his left ankle in an attempt to accelerate the healing process of an injury that has remained persistent the past few weeks.
Askew has been on the injury report every week since before the Atlanta game on Nov. 18, but he has started in every game. He did not practice on Wednesday and will not practice Thursday. He said the cast would come off after practice.
Askew does not believe the use of the cast will keep him out of Sunday's game.
"I want to play in every game this year," Askew said. "I know my teammates are counting on that."
While the sight of a hard cast on the leg of the Buccaneers' only experienced fullback is jarring, he said the training staff simply wanted to try something different.
"They wanted me to stay off of it, and I just wouldn't," Askew said. "So finally they just said, ‘That's it. It's going in a cast.'"
Askew did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, but still played against New Orleans. He's enjoyed a career season catching the football, as he has 17 receptions for 171 yards. He best total in four years with the New York Jets was nine receptions.
"That's part of the reason I came here," Askew said. "The offense was a lot different in New York. They didn't use me in that way. I saw the way they used Mike (Alstott) down here, I knew that he had contemplated retirement the past couple of years and I thought this was a place I could fit in. I just got an opportunity a lot sooner than I thought."
Head coach Jon Gruden has had high praise for Askew's play all year. He's been the lead blocker for a running game that is averaging 4.3 yards per carry, at the moment the best total in team history.
If Askew is unable to play Sunday against Houston, it would leave a significant experience gap in front of starting tailback Earnest Graham. Byron Storer is the team's only other true fullback, and the rookie from California play special teams. He has one catch for two yards this season. Michael Pittman — who is still recovering from his own ankle injury — started at fullback in the season opener, but Askew took his place in the next game.
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.