"He doesn't like to talk about it, so he must feel pretty good," Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of the cast Barber must sport on his left hand. "I think the big thing is, let him practice a couple days, let him go to sleep, come back the next day and see how it feels. He had a lighter cast on today and he felt, I think, less inhibited in terms of his movement. We think he's ready to go, because he says he's ready to go. Whatever he says, goes."
Tampa Bay has intercepted 21 passes this season and they picked off Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre off five times in their two meetings last season. Some of the Bucs' defensive players attributed their ability to intercept the Packers' quarterback to his habit of looking onto his receivers too long. But even if Barber plays Sunday, will he be able to take advantage of any errant throws that come his way?
"We kind of felt (he'd have trouble intercepting passes), but watching him on the ball drills, watching him on the practice field in this individual work, he has no trouble whatsoever grasping the ball," said Gruden. "He's been able to catch the ball cleanly. I'm sure it's not going to be the same, but he's got a certain magic about him and he just finds a way to catch the ball whether he's got a cast on or not."
The Buccaneers welcomed starting right tackle Kenyatta Walker back to practice Thursday. Walker is listed as probable on Tampa Bay's injury report, but the team isn't sure if he'll be able to play Sunday.
"Kenyatta Walker practiced," said Gruden. "He is still feeling pain in his ankle, but he did return to practice. I wouldn't say he was full speed, but he did some good things and we were encouraged by that.
"We're taking him down to the Auto Zone tonight and getting him some jumper cables. We're going to hook him up and try to get him all juiced up and ready to go. We sure hope so. If he's not ready to go then obviously we'll go with Cornell Green, but Kenyatta's battled through some ankle problems for the last six or seven weeks and we expect him to continue to do that."
Bucs middle linebacker Nate Webster missed Thursday's workout with a stomach virus. The team expects him to be ready to return to practice on Friday.
"We held Nate Webster today," said Gruden. "He's got an abdominal problem. We think he's a little sick. He has some upset stomach pains and we expect him to be ready to go tomorrow."
In other news, the Tampa Bay players have really bought into Buccaneers defensive line coach/assistant head coach Rod Marinelli's, "Pound the Rock" motto this season and on Thursday, the players were greeted by a giant rock sitting in the middle of the team's locker room. According to Gruden, the team had been searching for a rock to represent his team's slogan for quite some time.
"That's a special rock. I had to look a lot of places here in Tampa, but we found the right rock to represent our theme around here," said Gruden. It's a very magical rock, a special rock.."
To read Pewter Report's exclusive "Pound the Rock" story, click here.
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