Bucs set to activate RB Cadillac Williams

The Bucs are short on healthy running backs, but they could activate Cadillac Williams to the 53-man roster this week. Whether he plays against the Vikings or not is undetermined, but coaches and players alike were encourage as they returned from their bye.

The Buccaneers plan to activate Cadillac Williams from the physically unable to perform list to the 53-man roster Wednesday.

It's an inspirational comeback for Williams, who suffered what appeared to be a career-threatening torn patellar tendon in his right knee nearly 14 months ago.

On Monday, Williams wore shoulder pads and participated in contract drills.

"He responded to it. It's exciting," coach Jon Gruden said. "I've said that for a long time. It's almost like Christmas is here. And Christmas is Wednesday, I hope.

"We'll see how he feels. We'll talk to the trainers and the medical people. If my eyes don't deceive me, I think he has a chance to be a player this year, and that would be exciting."

Williams' return could come at a good time for the Bucs. Earnest Graham has a knee injury and could miss Sunday's game against Minnesota. Warrick Dunn has a pinched nerve in his back and did not play at Kansas City.

The Bucs aren't certain what role Williams would have with the team when he returns, but the 2005 Rookie of the Year plans on making a contribution.

"I do feel like I can come in and help the team," Williams said. "My role, how much I get to play is up to the coaches. I'm going in with the view that I'm going to contribute. That's how I've prepared myself.

"I feel like I'm in good football shape. I've been practicing the last three weeks, and I feel really good about it. The number of carries is totally out of my hands. I'm just looking to contribute in any way that I can."

NOTES

  • The Buccaneers signed S Donte Nicholson and released WR Brian Clark. After Clark cleared waivers, he was re-signed to the practice squad.

  • Jon Gruden made it clear he has no interest in the head coaching job at the University of Tennessee.

    "I've said it from the beginning, this is the only job I've really ever wanted," Gruden said. "As long as the Glazers will have me, I'll be here. I've got a lot of respect for Tennessee. I grew up down there a little bit. My wife is from there. But this is where I want to be, and I can only make myself that clear."

  • The NFC South is better than many expected at the start of the season, but Gruden is not surprised.

    "These are going to be hard-fought games," he said. "(Atlanta QB) Matt Ryan's for real; he's great, he's really something. I watched him (Sunday), and I tip my hat to him. He's clearly a great prospect. Drew Brees and that team in New Orleans is capable of running the table, if you ask me. They've got that kind of team. And Carolina, they've just been ornery as hell on defense all year. They've got some fine players, so it's going to be a dogfight. Can't worry about it."

  • RB Earnest Graham did not practice Monday due to a knee injury. He will be questionable for Sunday's game against the Vikings.

  • RB Warrick Dunn, who missed the last game at Kansas City with a back injury, returned to practice Monday and could play against the Vikings.

  • WR Maurice Stovall returned to practice after missing the past five games with a hamstring strain.

  • RB Michael Bennett could be the odd man out if the Bucs decide to activate Carnell Williams as planned Wednesday.

  • FB B.J. Askew, who has not played since Week 4 because of a hamstring tear, returned to practice Monday. He is questionable for Sunday's game against the Vikings.

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