Bucs look to close out season on positve note

Read on to find out more about Raheem's plan for the month of December, the latest on Clifton Smith's status for this season and all of the latest injury updates.

The Bucs would like to make this a December to remember.

Tampa Bay began the month losing 16-6 to the Carolina Panthers. A year ago, it was the same team that began a four-game skid in the final month for the then-9-3 Bucs, causing them to miss the playoffs and leading to the firing of Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen.

At 1-11, first-year coach Raheem Morris needs to compile some wins the final month to squash speculation that he might be one-and-done as the Bucs head coach.

"That was kind of my cry yesterday to these guys, December football. Good teams play great football in December," Morris said. "Yesterday, we went out there and played OK football in December. You have to find a way to play great football in December, not only this year but for the future. At one point you are going to be 7-2. You are going to be 8-3; you are going to be 9-3, like we were last year. You have to go out and you have to win in December."

Bucs rookie quarterback Josh Freeman passed for a career-high 321 yards but threw five interceptions against the Panthers, including three inside the Carolina 8-yard line. The Bucs also missed two easy field goals.

Some sweeping changes are inevitable after the season. The Bucs already fired or demoted offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and defensive coordinator Jim Bates. Morris has taken over the defensive play-calling and the Bucs have gotten better.

It's not a job Morris wants next season, but he is trying to establish some momentum heading into 2010.

"You have to put your stamp on what you are going to be going into the playoffs, making that run and doing what you have to do," Morris said. "No time better to start than now to work on December football when you are in December with a team that pretty much doesn't have a shot at the playoffs. You better establish your identity right now of what you are going to be in December."


--QB Josh Freeman has thrown eight interceptions in his last three games.

--QB Josh Johnson will serve as the backup quarterback Sunday against the Jets.

--RB Clifton Smith was placed on injured reserve with his second concussion in less than two months. RB Kareem Huggins was promoted to take Smith's place on the 53-man roster.

--WR Sammie Stroughter will assume the roles of punt and kickoff returner with the loss of Clifton Smith.

--WR Michael Clayton has a knee injury and not expected to play Sunday against the Jets.

--WR Maurice Stovall will make his second straight start at WR Sunday.

--PK Conner Barth was 2-of-4 in field goal tries Sunday at Carolina. Three kickers have combined to make 50 percent of field-goal tries for the Bucs this season.

--DT Roy Miller (ankle) is expected to be questionable for Sunday's game against the Jets.

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