Injury report, 4:59 p.m.
Here is Wednesday's injury report:
BUCCANEERS: Did not practice — FB B.J. Askew (ankle); Limited in practice —WR Joey Galloway (team decision), WR Ike Hilliard (back), LB Ryan Nece (groin), RB Michael Pittman (ankle). Full practice ¬— QB Jeff Garcia (back), DE Greg Spires (calf).
FALCONS: Did not practice on Wednesday.
So the Falcons will have just two days of on-field preparation for the game on Sunday.
Hilliard's status, 4:56 p.m.
Ike Hilliard practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday and Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden said that he's optimistic the veteran wide receiver will be ready to go for Sunday.
"To be honest with you, it's a sore body," Gruden said of Hilliard. "He's had ankle problems. He's had upper back problems — he's just a sore guy. There's nothing structurally wrong with him, he's just very sore from the game. But he'll be okay, I think."
Hilliard had better be. The team converted just one third down after he left the game on Sunday against Houston and he's one of the best threats in the NFL on third down.
Gruden also said quarterback Jeff Garcia practiced fully and looked good in anticipation of Garcia's start on Sunday.
Caught in the middle, 2:39 p.m.
Guess who Bobby Petrino left behind in Atlanta? His brother, Paul, who coached the team's wide receivers.
It sounds like Paul handled his situation with a lot more class than Bobby did, according to Falcons general manager Rich McKay.
McKay, the offensive coaches and Paul sat down last night and talked about the situation and gave him the option to stay. After thinking about it overnight, Paul resigned on Wednesday, citing that he didn't want to be a distraction to the team.
Bet the Falcons wish his brother had thought of that before he left for Arkansas.
More on Petrino, 2:19 p.m.
I've been watching the Falcons' press conference and Falcons owner Arthur Blank is hot about losing Bobby Petrino leaving the Falcons for obvious reasons.
Blank had a great line when someone asked him if he felt used by Petrino:
"You're asking me if I felt used? I feel abused."
Also, it appears the Falcons did not grant the Razorbacks permission to speak to Petrino. In fact, it sounds like the Falcons found about Petrino's interest in Arkansas from an unlikely source — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Jones is an Arkansas graduate, played for the Razorbacks and has obvious connections to the athletic department. Last week Jones called Blank to ask him if the Falcons had given the Razorbacks permission to speak to Petrino.
"After I picked my cell phone off the floor, I told him that I didn't think we had," Blank said.
Blank handed that question off to general manager Rich McKay, who said that he two conversations with Jones regarding Petrino's availability for the job and McKay told Jones both times that they were unlikely to grant Petrino permission to talk about the job.
Blank also said that Petrino shook his hand on Monday afternoon and basically told the owner that "I'm your guy."
And this is all going off on national TV. If you were a recruit, would you want to play for Petrino after this?
Bucs react to Petrino's exit, 1:01 p.m.
Joey Galloway knows exactly what he would do if his head coach abruptly resigned and left for another job with three games left in the season.
"I would kill him," Galloway said.
Atlanta head coach Bobby Petrino did just that to the Falcons on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after telling team owner Arthur Blank that he intended to stay with the Falcons beyond 2008.
Amid the firestorm of bad press in Atlanta, the Falcons (3-9) still have to play a football game against the Buccaneers (8-5) at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. For the Buccaneers, a victory would clinch their third NFC South division title in six years.
Bucs fullback B.J. Askew said he's never been in a situation like that before.
"That has to be tough," Askew said. "I would hate to be in that situation, here one day gone the next with the coach. They'll handle it. They have no choice really."
Defensive end Kevin Carter has some experience with this sort of exit. In Miami last year Carter watch Nick Saban go back and forth before he left the Dolphins for Alabama.
But he wouldn't speculate about what the Falcons are thinking right now. He'd rather focus on this week's game.
"But we can't worry about that," Carter said. It's not remotely in my scope of concern."
The Falcons will name their interim head coach at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday.
Certainly, the Falcons could crater further under the weight of Petrino's exit. But it could also embolden a team looking for anything to rally around after a tumultuous season, which began with Michael Vick's legal woes.
That uncertainty has crossed some players' minds.
"Now we really don't know," Bucs defensive tackle Jovan Haye said. "We're so used to them being a zone team and now, with Petrino out of there, they may go more to an old-school Falcons offense. So we have to prepare for everything."
Crockett's back, Askew's in cast, 12:28 p.m.
The Buccaneers signed Zack Crockett on Wednesday as insurance in case starting FB B.J. Askew can't play on Sunday against Atlanta.
Askew faced the media in the locker room wearing another hard cast around his injured left ankle, the one he's played through for a month. The pain may be getting to him. Despite repeated efforts by the training staff to get him well, Askew's ankle isn't responding and they had to give him a shot to numb the pain on Sunday.
"I've thought about going without it (the shot)," Askew said. "They've (the staff) encouraged me not to have the shot and I tell them, ‘Give me the shot.' It's something they really don't want to do. I've been pushing them to do it. At some point, I might have to sit out a week. Hopefully I can make it through. I'm going to try this week going without the shot and see how that goes, or potentially even sit. We'll see."
That doesn't sound promising, though Askew's been a gamer and played through obvious pain. But Crockett's presence in the locker room at least gives the Buccaneers as measure of comfort entering the Atlanta game.
Crockett anticipates little to no transition.
"I'm familiar enough, yes," Crockett said. "I was here five weeks ago. So it's just getting back out there and in the swing of things. Once you start hearing things and doing it you get more comfortable with it."
RB signing, 12:15 p.m.
Just to update you, the Bucs released RB Lionel Gates on Tuesday and signed RB Kenneth Darby from the practice squad.
Petrino's mess, 9:48 a.m.
As you might expect, the big story today isn't even going to involve the Buccaneers. It's Atlanta head coach Bobby Petrino's resignation in Atlanta. You can read all about it in this article written in the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution and posted at ajc.com.
I wanted to get a good night's sleep before opining on this and I have to say this is one of the most classless things I've seen a head coach do. Yes, I know it's been a difficult season for Petrino in Atlanta. It wasn't necessarily what he signed up for. But leaving your team with three games to go is like getting off the Titanic before the women and children. Lying to your team's owner about your interest in the job is just plain lying. Falcons owner Arthur Blank has every reason to be hot — and to ask for his money back. If Petrino thinks the expectations are going to go down just because he's going to Arkansas, he's crazy. Those people are nuts about the Hogs and being the head coach of that program is like being a NFL coach in that state. Good luck with that Bobby.
Petrino was obviously ill-suited for the NFL. That became obvious when he stuck Byron Leftwich in to start against Tampa Bay instead of sticking with Joey Harrington, who had won his previous two starts. This franchise is rudderless and needs a strong leader more than it ever has in its history.
Bill Cowher, is that your cell phone ringing?
At Bucsblitz.com, 9:46 a.m.
My "Film Session" article for this week is now up. Become a premium subscriber and get my exclusive breakdowns of Earnest Graham's first touchdown run, Greg White's first sack, Andre Davis' kickoff return for a touchdown and the Bucs' failed 4th-and-2 play in this premium article.
Drifting off to Miami, 9:44 a.m.
Occasionally, Bucs DE Derrick Brooks drifts off and thinks about what his life would be like if he were still in Miami. Then he wakes up in a cold sweat. As his former team drifts toward 0-16, Carter talked about his time with the franchise with the Tampa Tribune's Ira Kaufman for this piece at TBO.com.
Sharing time, 9:43 a.m.
Linebackers Derrick Brooks and Cato June both want to be on the field. Too back both are naturals at weak side linebacker. But in nickel situations, the Bucs have conceived a unique solution that both players are using to their advantage. Find out more at Tampabay.com.
Fooling the masses, 9:40 a.m.
St. Pete Times columnist Gary Shelton wonders if anyone should care that Bucs head coach Jon Gruden played "footsie" with the NFL injury report in regards to his quarterbacks last weekend in Houston. I opined on this earlier this week. I considered it gamesmanship. Find out what Shelton thinks at Tampabay.com.