Matthew Postins: Garcia told reporters on Wednesday that he's going to play Sunday. He practiced on Wednesday, though it was only a light walk-through.
The Bucs experienced Garcia's physical breakdowns a year ago, which is why they traded for Brian Griese this offseason. I don't think there's too much difference between the two, to be frank. Griese probably has a better downfield arm than Garcia, but Garcia manages the game much better than the interception-prone Griese.
The Bucs are still a run-oriented team that chooses its spots in the passing game. They won't stretch the field often and that plays to Garcia's strengths. If he plays, the Bucs have a good chance to win because they won't make many turnovers.
ML: Cadillac Williams (knee) seems to be rounding back into form. What kind of progress have you seen from him on a week-to-week basis and what impact will he make against the Chargers?
RB Cadillac Williams
MP: His recovery from the patellar tendon tear couldn't have been timed better, given Earnest Graham's season-ending injury the week before Williams played his first game of the year. But the fact is he's only averaging 3.0 yards per carry and has carried just 43 times in four games this season.
Williams is being used mostly in short-yardage and goal line situations because he's a bigger back than starter Warrick Dunn. Dunn will get the bulk of the carries. Willliams' meaningful playing time will come when his larger frame means an extra yard for a first down or touchdown.
ML: The Buccaneers have two talented pass-catching tight ends: Alex Smith and Jerramy Stevens. What role does each play in Tampa Bay's offense and who is the bigger threat to the Chargers?
MP: I've always felt Smith should be utilized more in the offense and that the Bucs' use of short- and medium-range passes played in his favor. But Smith hasn't caught more than three passes in any game this year and missed three games due to injury. It makes me wonder if the fourth-year pro is in Tampa Bay's plans in 2009.
Stevens has caught nearly half of his 32 catches since the bye week, meaning the past five games. Stevens is a larger target for the Bucs' quarterbacks and he's earned the trust of Coach Jon Gruden, which is paramount to getting playing time in Tampa Bay. It seems the Bucs may be done with Smith, though Gruden likes to have at least three tight ends on the roster and Smith is a good blocker. But Stevens will be used much more on Sunday.
ML: The Tampa Bay run defense has looked susceptible the last two weeks. Do you expect the Bucs to keep LaDainian Tomlinson in check? Or is there a legitimate chink in the defensive armor?
DT Chris Hovan
Stopping the run had been a strength all season up until to those two games, as the Bucs had given up just one rushing TD until Week 14. Now they've given up three in the past two games.
The Bucs are not that big up the gut of their defense, and with the great play of the secondary all season, teams may sense their better opportunity to win is on the ground. Also, one must take into account the strength up front in both Carolina and Atlanta.
I suspect the Bucs will do a better job against LT. I watched part of that KC-SD game last Sunday and I wasn't that impressed. I would think that 75-80 yards allowed to LT on the ground would constitute a good day for Tampa Bay's defense.
ML: The Bucs' third-ranked pass defense will face the NFL's highest-rated passer, Philip Rivers. What will the Bucs do to fluster Rivers? What areas can Rivers attack to exploit Monte Kiffin's unit?
MP: First of all, I wouldn't be surprised if the Bucs blitzed Rivers early and often, given his struggles early in games the past two weeks. The secondary is capable of keeping up with all of San Diego's receivers, though Vincent Jackson could burn Ronde Barber once or twice.
The Bucs may need to blitz because their pass rush has slowed down in recent weeks. The Bucs were tearing up opponents for a few weeks, but they now have only 27 sacks this season, still below last year's 32. The Bucs spread that pressure around, but one must wonder if there's enough coming from the front four to allow the Tampa 2 to work the way defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin intended.
If Rivers gets protection, the Bucs' defense, like all Cover 2s, is vulnerable in the middle, about 20 yards downfield. Players like LT and Antonio Gates could use that to their advantage.
ML What's the low-down on the Buccaneers special teams? Who are the top three players on these units that Chargers fans should keep an eye on?
MP: First, there's Pro Bowl returner Clifton Smith, who came off the practice squad two months ago and has made second-round pick Dexter Jackson -- the guy the Bucs had hoped would be their returner -- look like a wasted pick. Smith has two returns for touchdowns and a healthy average in both disciplines.
Second, PK Matt Bryant is having a Pro Bowl type of year and can win close games with his accurate leg.
Finally, watch backup safety Will Allen. He's a veteran special teams performer who has a knack for being around the football at crucial moments.
Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of BucsBlitz.com.