The Tampa Bay Buccaneers worked out four fullbacks on Wednesday, according to a NFL source, the most notable of which was six-year veteran Darian Barnes.
The New York Jets released Barnes on Nov. 28 after he was declared inactive for six of the Jets' first 11 games. Ironically, Barnes was signed in the offseason to replace the fullback the Jets lost, current Buccaneers starter B.J. Askew.
Barnes broke in with the Buccaneers in 2002 as a rookie, playing six games. He also played 14 games for Tampa Bay in 2003. After that he played for Dallas in 2004 and Miami in 2005-06.
Askew spent Wednesday and Thursday with his left ankle in a hard cast. He said trainers put his ankle in a cast in an attempt to try something different to help heal his injured ankle. He did not practice.
Askew has spent the past three weeks on the Bucs' injury report, but has started all three games. Part of that is out of necessity. He's the only experienced fullback on the roster. The other fullback is California rookie Byron Storer.
Askew told Bucsblitz.com on Thursday that he had every intention of playing on Sunday against Houston. The cast was set to come off after practice on Thursday.
Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden didn't comment about injuries on Thursday beyond Jeff Garcia's back.
But what if Askew can't go?
Barnes could be an answer.
"Darian did a good job while he was here and I wish him well," Jets head coach Eric Mangini said. "The way it worked out is there were other guys in those positions [on special teams]. If you're not considered there on a regular basis, it makes it hard to be active consistently."
Barnes is a blocking fullback who has five career carries and 14 career receptions. He doesn't possess the versatility of Askew, who has a career-high 17 carries this season, but at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, he could provide the Buccaneers with some lead blocking if Askew were unable to play.
Among the other tryouts were former Elon fullback Mike Warren, who signed with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent but did not make the roster coming out of training camp; former Clemson fullback Steven Jackson, who was last with the Carolina Panthers; and former Georgia Tech running back Jimmy Dixon, who was last with Seattle.
Want to read what B.J. Askew had to say in the locker room on Thursday about his injured ankle? Click here to read our story.
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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.