Bucs starting QB Brad Johnson is still recovering from a broken rib he suffered against Philadelphia, but he's also dealing with a stomach virus that would have kept him out of the game against Carolina even if he had healthy ribs.
"(Brad Johnson) is still really unable to uncork the football at a level he needs to throw it," said Gruden. "That was my feeling late in the week last week, but we'll see where he is when he gets healthy enough from his virus where he can actually go out there and test those ribs. We don't really know."
Bucs backup QB Rob Johnson started against Carolina and completed 22-of-33 passes for 179 yards and threw one interception before having to leave the game late in the fourth quarter with a strained gluteal (buttocks) muscle.
While Gruden was somewhat pleased with Rob Johnson's first start of the season, Tampa Bay has not scored an offensive touchdown in two games (eight quarters).
Both Brad Johnson and Rob Johnson are listed as questionable for Sunday's game and if they can't play, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said King will start.
"We'll get a good read on that in the next 48 hours in terms of Rob Johnson's status and Brad Johnson's status," Gruden said. "If neither one of those guys can go Shaun King will be the starter against Minnesota."
King saw very brief action after Rob Johnson was sidelined with his injury, but the fourth-year quarterback made the best of his playing time. King threw the ball just once, but completed that pass to wide receiver Karl Williams for a 7-yard gain, which moved the team into field goal range for kicker Martin Gramatica, who then drilled the 47-yard game-winning field goal with just seconds remaining in the game. Gruden was very impressed with King's performance under pressure.
"That was an amazing thing," Gruden said of King's brief appearance. "Shaun King is a guy standing on the sideline with his helmet on ready to go. We did not want to use a time out. Rob (Johnson) got hurt on that last scramble, but no one really knew it. We had a called a play, but we had no quarterback. We couldn't find Rob. He got hit questionably out of bounds. But he got knocked out of bounds and never surfaced. So we had 10 guys in the huddle and we had the play called, but we couldn't find Rob. So Shaun was standing right next to me and we threw him out there and he makes a key play to Karl Williams to set up a decisive field goal. Shaun King is a player. He's into football and he'll get his opportunity. He knows that and he's going to make sure he's ready for it."
King, who is in the final year of his contract, is certainly not your ordinary third-string quarterback. While King (6-foot, 225-pounds) is shorter than both Brad Johnson (6-5, 226) and Rob Johnson (6-4, 212), he is known for his mobility and play-making ability.
Tampa Bay was victorious in 14 of the 25 games King played in from '99-2000. King went from third-string to first-string quarterback in '99 after both Trent Dilfer and Eric Zeier suffered injuries. He went on to lead the Bucs to a 4-1 record over the final five weeks of the regular season and the team eventually made it to the NFC Championship Game before being defeated by the St. Louis Rams, who went on to win Super Bowl XXXIV.
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