Buccaneers Blog: Spurlock honored

Buccaneers Blog is Bucsblitz.com's home for breaking news, injury reports, story links and analysis of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today Jeff Garcia comments on the Pro Bowl, Davin Joseph talks about the O-Line's weekly dinners and Micheal Spurlock earns a league honor.

Rest of injury report, 5:30 p.m.

Here is the 49ers injury report for Wednesday:

Out — QB Trent Dilfer (concussion); Did not participate — G Larry Allen (team decision), DE Roderick Green (illness), DB Walt Harris (team decision), DT Bryant Young (team decision); Limited participation — WR Arnaz Battle (ankle), RB Frank Gore (ankle), CB Marcus Hudson (knee), RB Michael Robinson (shoulder), CB Shawntae Spencer (quad), LB Jeff Ulbrich (ankle).

Spurlock earns honor, 4:58 p.m.

The National Football League today announced that Tampa Bay Buccaneers KR-WR Micheal Spurlock was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 15.

Spurlock returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, becoming the first Buccaneer in franchise history to return a kickoff for a touchdown and helping Tampa Bay clinch the NFC South with a 37-3 victory over Atlanta. Spurlock's kickoff-return touchdown happened on the 1,865th kickoff return in team annals and he is one of 140 players to return at least one kickoff for the Buccaneers.

This marks the first career Player of the Week Award won by Spurlock, and the 22nd time a Buccaneer has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Injury report, 4:10 p.m.

Here is Wednesday's injury report (the 49ers have not reported their injuries yet):

BUCCANEERS: Did not practice — DE Patrick Chukwurah (hamstring), LB Ryan Nece (groin); Limited in practice — FB B.J. Askew (ankle), WR Joey Galloway (team decision); Full practice ¬— RB Michael Pittman (ankle), DE Greg Spires (calf).

We'll get the Niners injuries to you later this evening.

Pro Bowl alternates, 3:35 p.m.

QB Jeff Garcia, WR Joey Galloway and FB B.J. Askew have been named Pro Bowl alternates, according to a report on the St. Petersburg Times Web site. The Bucs have made no official announcement.

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden made it clear on Wednesday that he's done talking about the Pro Bowl.

"The Pro Bow is what it is," Gruden said. "I'm not going to disregard that that's a great honor, but that's not the only way we evaluate our players. We don't pay our players' salaries based on whether they go to the Pro Bowl. I'm not going to talk about the Pro Bowl anymore. We're interested in the Super Bowl. I know we have some players that are worthy of being in that game, that all-star classic, and some players that will be worthy at some point soon. I believe that."

Injury update, 3:30 p.m.

The official injury report is not out yet, but I can tell you that Bucs head coach Jon Gruden seemed pleased that DE Greg Spires is making progress.

"He's been out there the last couple of weeks and we think he's closing in on being ready to play," Gruden said.

FB B.J. Askew also worked out on Wednesday in a limited fashion. He, like Spires, missed last week's game.

"I'm optimistic," Gruden said. "I can say he was out here today and that was a good sign."

DE Patrick Chukwurah and LB Ryan Nece did not participate.

Chukwurah has a hamstring issue, Gruden told the media on Monday. But he wasn't able to update Chukwurah's status for Sunday's game, saying the team was taking a wait-and-see approach. Nece's injury is undisclosed at this time, but he hasn't missed a game this season and has been on the injury report several times.

Well, this is out of character, 3:25 p.m.

We're all getting a big laugh out of this in the press room at One Buc Place …

Bill Parcells has apparently turned down the Atlanta Falcons' offer to become their vice president of football operations and is apparently now considering a revised offer from the Miami Dolphins to join their organization.

This is all coming from ESPN inside source Chris Mortensen, who appeared just a little chagrined at the waffling Parcells. Most reporters don't like to look wrong.

We'll keep you apprised.

How Bennett's spending his time now, 12:35 p.m.

Running back Michael Bennett is a big movie guy, but today while sitting in the locker room Bennett was engaged in watching an episode of "24" on DVD.

Meal time, 12:28 p.m.

I'm working on a piece on the offensive line for later this week, but after talking to right guard Davin Joseph I can tell you one key to this unit's success is food.

Every Thursday night the entire offensive line — from the highest-paid to the practice squad guys — go to a different restaurant and throw on the feed bag. Joseph said you'd be surprised how little shop talk — as in football talk — comes up. These guys actually talk about other stuff and they're thankful for the break from the weekly grind of preparing for each week's game.

So where do they go? Well, it's up to a different player each week — and how much that player can afford.

"Some of the veterans can afford to go to Ruth Chris or The Capital Grille," Joseph said. "Some guys can afford to go to better places. Sometimes we go to Lee Roy Selmon's or places like that. It's wherever that guys wants to go. You can't do McDonald's. You have to do something decent."

Garcia on the Pro Bowl, 12:20 p.m.

Bucs QB Jeff Garcia talked about the perceived Pro Bowl snub of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On Tuesday not a single Buc made the Pro Bowl roster. There still could be some alternate and injury selections.

Garcia said it might be fitting that there are no Pro Bowl selections, but that the Bucs aren't above using it to their advantage.

"We know we have great players within this locker room. We know we have players here that are very deserving of that sort of recognition," Garcia said. "But we're about the team and I think that's where this team is so solid, so great. It's not about the individual recognition. It's about the team accomplishments. We have one focus on our mind and that's getting to Arizona, somehow, someway, as a team. It's unfortunate that some of the guys weren't recognized for their great play this year. But that's just somewhat how it's been for this team throughout the season. (They've been) somewhat unrecognized in what we've been able to achieve. But that's all right with us. That's the fuel that ignites the fire. We feel like we have a lot to prove and we're more concerned about what's going to take play this week in San Francisco than what's taking place in February in Hawaii."

Stevens back, 10:16 a.m.

Bucs TE Jerramy Stevens' one-game suspension has been lifted, prompting the release of FB Zack Crockett and the deletion of TE Zac Herold from the practice squad.

Playoff scenarios, 10 a.m.

In case you're wondering, here's how the NFC playoffs would stack up if the season ended today:

No. 1: Dallas (12-2)

No. 2: Green Bay (12-2)

No. 3: Seattle (9-5)

No. 4: Tampa Bay (9-5)

No. 5: New York Giants (9-5)

No. 6: Minnesota (8-6)

There are still plenty of interesting things going on with two weeks remaining.

First, Dallas owns the tiebreaker edge over Green Bay for the No. 1 seed, but the Cowboys have been below average in December the past few years. Their loss to Philly on Sunday didn't help matters.

Second, Seattle owns the tiebreaker edge over Tampa Bay for the No. 3 seed. But Seattle's loss to Carolina on Sunday is making this a much closer race than I thought it would be two weeks ago. Tampa Bay would still need to have a better record than Seattle to gain the No. 3 seed. But if the Bucs keep winning, they can put pressure on the Seahawks. Both are guaranteed a home playoff game, regardless. But the Bucs should keep pushing for that third seed in case something goofy happens in the playoffs, such as the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds falling in the divisional playoffs. That would give the No. 3 seed the home field in the NFC Championship.

The Giants are still the top Wild Card team, but their loss to Washington significantly tightened the race. Should the Giants drop another game and end up tied with Minnesota, then the Vikings would vault into the No. 5 seed because they beat the Giants three weeks ago. The Vikings are scorching right now, winners of five straight.

Two 7-7 teams are still in the hunt, too — New Orleans and Washington. They'll need to keep winning. But the Redskins scored a valuable win over the Giants on Sunday. That split their season series. The Redskins will still need a win against Dallas on Dec. 30 to tie the Giants' 3-3 divisional record and send further tiebreakers in motion.

New Orleans is actually ranked as the conference's No. 7 team. How they probably wish they had that game against the Bucs back. They have something going for them, though. They have two remaining conference games and a 6-4 conference record. Those four losses are fewer than Washington (5), Minnesota (5) and the Giants (5). Why is that key? Well, the Saints haven't played any of those teams, and in breaking ties among wild card teams in different divisions with no head-to-head contests the conference record is the next tiebreaker. That's why the Saints are currently ranked ahead of Washington. Should they win their final two games, the Saints would further enhance their chances if either the Giants or the Vikings falter.

At Bucsblitz.com, 9:45 a.m.

Here are a couple of stories for you to read at Bucsblitz.com right now. First, you can read our free story on the recent Pro Bowl selections by clicking here. We'll have much more comment after the open locker room session today.

Next, go inside the top plays from Sunday's victory with "Film Session." In this premium article, I break down four of the game's most pivotal plays, explain how they happened and why they were so important. Included this week is Ronde Barber's interception return, Micheal Spurlock's kickoff return for a touchdown and Gaines Adams' second-quarter sack of Chris Redman. You can access the article by clicking here.

Finally, you can read my complete interview with special teams coach Richard Bisaccia after Sunday's game — and Spurlock's huge return — by reading the most recent edition of "Press Pass," our premium Q&A sessions. To read, click here.

Pro Bowling for reasons why, 9:42 a.m.

In case you haven't heard, there were no Buccaneers named to the NFC Pro Bowl team on Tuesday. After setting aside his mock outrage, St. Pete Times columnist Gary Shelton wonders if this snub is actually fitting for a team that, in his mind, has just one true star — the team itself. Read more at Tampabay.com.

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