QB situation uncertain heading into key finale

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the prospect of starting their third quarterback in as many games in Sunday night's critical regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears in Champaign,Ill.

Starting quarterback Brad Johnson is still questionable with a lower back contusion and not expected to practice Wednesday.

And judging from Shaun King's miserable performance in Monday night's 17-7 loss to the Steelers, Bucs coach Jon Gruden is probably leaning toward starting Rob Johnson against the Bears.

King, who was making his first start in nearly two years, went 9 of 26 for 73 yards and was replaced in the third quarter by Rob Johnson.

King's second pass attempt was intercepted by Steelers cornerback Chad Brown, giving Pittsburgh a 14-0 lead barely five minutes into the game.

Rob Johnson fared a little better and finally got the Bucs into the end zone. But on his first drive after replacing King, he passed for 101 yards, took four sacks and came away with nothing when he was stripped and fumbled inside the 10-yard line.

However, Gruden is likely to start Rob Johnson because he has more game experience in the last two seasons.

"(Rob) might be more acclimated to game speed," said Gruden. "It's one thing, we blitzed a lot on the practice field last week, trying to simulate as much game-like speed as possible. But when it's all said and done and you go out there and play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that they have and you get their A-game, their best shot, the speed is going to take you a little while to get accustomed to. I think that shocked Shaun a little bit, early particularly, and that will have some impact on the decision that we make."

The Bucs' loss to the Steelers dealt a blow to their chances for earning a first-round bye. Tampa Bay must win against Chicago and have the Jets beat the Packers to avoid playing host to a wild-card game against either Atlanta, New Orleans or the New York Giants.


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