Whether its as a running back or a fullback, Earnest Graham sucks it up for the Buccaneers. But what is Graham's true worth to Tampa Bay? In this insider article, see Graham's true worth to the Buccaneers through insider notes that are only available to the media. Get the scoop right here.
Few mid-round picks have performed as well this season as Tampa bay offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah. State of Rutgers talked to Zuttah about his season so far and how the Bucs are faring. Get the scoop by clicking here.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to prepare for Sunday's clash with the Dallas Cowboys. Get the inside scoop straight from head coach Jon Gruden on the game, Carnell Williams' progress and more. Get the scoop right here.
The Bucs are catching teams at the right time.
Tampa Bay blasted the Seahawks last Sunday night in part because they were without starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
This week, the Bucs catch the Dallas Cowboys without starting quarterback Tony Romo, who is out with a broken right pinkie finger on his throwing hand.
The Bucs - and particularly coach Jon Gruden - are familiar with Johnson, who won a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay in 2002 and played five seasons here.
Johnson's lack of mobility could be a real issue against a Bucs defense that is swarming to the football and is fourth in the NFL in points allowed with 15.3 per game.
Johnson knows with games against the Giants and Redskins coming up, the Cowboys can ill-afford to lose Sunday's meeting with Tampa Bay, which is tied with Carolina for first place in the NFC South at 5-2.
"Last week, we didn't play very well across the board," Johnson said. "We really struggled, especially on first down. When you look at the third down conversions, we were third-and-8, third-and-10, third-and-12 most of the day, so it's a tough living.
"We had a couple of turnovers early in the game and the game got out of hand real fast. We just had a hard time recovering from it. We struggled, I struggled the whole bit. We were just playing catch up ball the whole way."
Gruden said the Bucs can't focus too much on Johnson because the Cowboys have so many other weapons on offense.
"It will be great to see Brad again. A great Buccaneer," Gruden said. "We got to prepare for a lot. They got 15, 16 Pro Bowlers. It's a tough place to play and obviously they've been disappointed in their results the past couple of weeks, but they've got a loaded roster and a great talented staff and we'll do the best we can.
"We've missed our quarterback. We've missed (Joey) Galloway and our fullbacks. We've missed a lot of our players, too. I can't comment on their situation. They can have their own press conference and resolve that."
Offensively, the Bucs have righted the ship behind the solid play of quarterback Jeff Garcia, who is coming off a 310-yard passing performance against Seattle. More importantly, Garcia has not thrown in an interception in the last two games, something that plagued Brian Griese before his injury.
The game will also feature the return to Dallas of Antonio Bryant, who is coming off a 115-yard performance against the Seahawks.
"This is a team that has 13 or 14 Pro Bowlers," Bryant said. "You can't really go in there and look at this team and say, 'They're down. This is the best time to get them.' You don't know. This is a successful team. You've got a guy like Brad Johnson, who's been to a Super Bowl, and he knows how to win. This is a great organization and they pride themselves on being a signature type team. They're going to play big-time football. That's the best part about it. We get to go under their tent of exposure and get some exposure of our own."
The Bucs will try to control the ball on the ground with Warrick Dunn and Earnest Graham, dominating time of possession and slowing down the pass rush - much the way the Rams did.
Defensively, Tampa Bay will try to continue its penchant for stopping the run and try to make Johnson beat them.
"The pass rush can be defined in terms of sacks or pressure and hits on the quarterback also," Gruden said. "I'm talking legal hits is a big part of pass rush. If you can make the quarterback fear right or left, if you can disrupt his timing, his vision and his rhythm, that's a good pass rush. A great pass rush is getting three guys on the quarterback, but we've had some good individual rushes. We've done better in our gaming. Our stunts are getting better and Monte Kiffin's done a nice job with the staff with some created blitz use, but if we stop the run we're able to do the things that good pass rushing teams do. The crowd helps us out a lot. Our guys get off on the noise and they like that."