NFL Nation: Rudy Carpenter

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys wrapped up the preseason with a 30-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night. Unlike last season, when wide receiver Raymond Radway was injured in the closing seconds of the preseason at Miami, there were no such major health issues coming from this game. This was the last chance for several players to make an impact on the coaches and scouts, and join the 53-man roster.

What it means: The Cowboys finish the preseason 3-1 and have to make some hard decisions regarding the No. 3 quarterback spot, whether to keep a fourth running back or which running back to keep, whether Orie Lemon and Mario Butler make the team, and whether Danny Coale and Matt Johnson should earn paychecks in September.

McGee vs. Carpenter: There is this battle for the No. 3 quarterback position. Stephen McGee played the first half, led one touchdown drive and converted 13 first downs. He completed nine of 18 passes for 124 yards. The Cowboys led 20-6 at the break. Rudy Carpenter also led the Cowboys on a touchdown drive -- capped by a 58-yard run by Lance Dunbar -- and finished 4-of-10 for 48 yards. In addition, Carpenter had a 21-yard scramble. But it would appear neither quarterback did enough to secure a spot on the roster.

Only one starter plays: Between both units, only center Phil Costa played. Costa missed the first three preseason games with a strained lower back, and the Cowboys wanted to give him some snaps before putting him in a regular-season game. Costa didn't have any bad snaps, and it's unknown whether he had any blown assignments. David Arkin replaced Costa.

The running game is strong: There are no questions regarding the status of DeMarco Murray as the starter. Felix Jones has been guaranteed a roster spot by owner/general manager Jerry Jones. We thought the No. 3 running back gig was going to Phillip Tanner, but Dunbar came on strong Wednesday night. Dunbar ran with a burst, scoring on a 58-yard run. Let's not forget about Tanner, who burst up the middle for a 1-yard score. Dunbar rushed 15 times for 105 yards, and Tanner rushed for 48 yards on nine carries.

Lemon made his case: If linebacker Lemon was a bubble player, he should make the roster. He returned an interception 26 yards to give the Cowboys a 10-6 lead in the second quarter. Lemon was active on defense and, given what he does on special teams, should make the 53-man roster. Adrian Hamilton also was fighting for a roster spot, but he hasn't shown his pass-rush abilities on a consistent basis with the Cowboys.

Cowboys lose three players: Guard Derrick Dockery left the game for personal reasons, and fellow guard Daniel Loper suffered a hamstring injury. Cornerback Lionel Smith departed the game with a concussion. None of the three returned.

Who played well: Tyrone Crawford, Orie Lemon, Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Dan Bailey.

Who didn't: Teddy Williams, David Arkin, Stephen McGee.

Bailey is perfect: Kicker Dan Bailey finished the preseason 8-for-8 on field goal attempts. Bailey made kicks of 25, 30 and 26 yards Wednesday night. The Cowboys didn't have any concerns about him heading into the preseason, but unlike last season when the team had a kicking competition, nothing was going on here. It was all Bailey. The longest kick of the preseason by Bailey was 49 yards.

Ryan Tannehill makes the start: The eighth pick of the NFL draft, quarterback Ryan Tannehill made the start for the Dolphins. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 35 yards. The former Aggie played with a presence and threw some strong passes, but he still has a ways to go to help the Dolphins.

What's next? The Cowboys must cut their roster to 53 players by Friday night and then finalize their practice squad roster with as many as eight players. The team will practice over the weekend at Valley Ranch and prepare for the regular season opener at the New York Giants.

Benn, Trueblood out for Bucs

January, 1, 2012
ATLANTA -- As expected, the Buccaneers will be without injured receiver Arrelious Benn and right tackle Jeremy Trueblood in Sunday’s game with the Falcons.

Both players have been declared inactive. Preston Parker and Dezmon Briscoe will get more playing time with Benn out. James Lee is expected to start in Trueblood’s place.

Also inactive for the Bucs are quarterback Rudy Carpenter, receiver Sammie Stroughter, cornerback Anthony Gaitor, defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and offensive tackle Derek Hardman.

Inactives for the Buccaneers

December, 17, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. -- As expected, Tampa Bay receiver Arrelious Benn (concussion) is inactive for Saturday night’s game with the Dallas Cowboys.

That likely means more playing time for Dezmon Briscoe and Preston Parker.

The other inactives for the Buccaneers are quarterback Rudy Carpenter, receiver Sammie Stroughter, safety Larry Asante, cornerback Myron Lewis, offensive lineman Derek Hardman and offensive tackle James Lee.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
Check here for a complete list of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster moves.

Surprise move: Perhaps the biggest surprise came Friday when the Buccaneers released middle linebacker Tyrone McKenzie. He came to training camp with an apparent shot to win the starting job after the Bucs let Barrett Ruud walk in free agency. McKenzie had helped organize players-only workouts during the lockout and ran the defense during that time.

But the fact the Bucs released him shows they’re more than content to go with rookie Mason Foster as their middle linebacker. He’ll start off as a two-down player, and outside linebacker Quincy Black, who will be an every-down player, will wear the radio helmet and call the defensive signals at least at the start of the season. But it looks like the Bucs have total confidence in Foster. Adam Hayward, who can play outside or inside and on special teams, probably will be Foster’s backup.

A few other pleasant surprises who made the roster were cornerback D.J. Johnson, defensive end George Johnson and safety Devin Holland.

No-brainers: Like a lot of other teams, the Bucs decided to go with just two quarterbacks, waiving Rudy Carpenter. They may try to bring Carpenter back to the practice squad. But the fact they’re willing to expose him to waivers tells you all you really need to know about how the Bucs view Carpenter. He’s a smart guy who knows the system, but he has no upside because he lacks arm strength. If the Bucs truly thought Carpenter could become a No. 2 quarterback, they would have kept him around because backup Josh Johnson can become a free agent next year. Johnson probably will move on because he knows there’s no chance of starting as long as Josh Freeman is around.

What's next: General manager Mark Dominik isn’t likely to be plucking the waiver wire as much as he did last season. But he’ll keep his eyes open, and you could see a move or two. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs bring in a running back, particularly one who fits the profile of a third-down back. Veteran Earnest Graham can fill that role, if needed, but the Bucs also like to use him at fullback.

Final preseason tests for NFC South

September, 1, 2011
The final preseason games for all NFC South teams are Thursday night.

Baltimore plays at Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. ET and Tampa Bay at Washington kicks off at the same time. Pittsburgh at Carolina and Tennessee at Houston start half an hour later. Since final preseason games generally don’t feature a lot of playing time for the starters, we’ll make our preview a little more comprehensive.

Instead of doing three things to watch on each team, we’ll do one.

Cam Newton’s last test. The Panthers appear to be set to go with the rookie quarterback as their starter for the regular season. He has not had a great preseason as a passer and probably won’t get a lot of playing time tonight. But it would be nice to see him complete a few passes against the Steelers. That would help his confidence and also bring some optimism to the fans.

Cameron Jordan’s role. The Saints pulled a surprise Tuesday when they cut starting defensive end Alex Brown. Conventional wisdom says that probably means they’re ready to use Jordan, a first-round draft pick, as a starter. Coach Sean Payton hasn’t committed that far and said the Saints will use a rotation at defensive end. But Jeff Charleston, Junior Galette and Turk McBride aren’t the kind of guys you expect to see in the starting lineup on a weekly basis.

Mike Johnson vs. Garrett Reynolds. This competition for Atlanta’s starting right guard job is coming down to the wire. Johnson missed some time early on with a concussion and that gave Reynolds the early edge. But coach Mike Smith has said Johnson still is a contender to start and a strong showing could be the deciding factor. No matter if it’s Johnson or Reynolds opening the regular season at Chicago on Sept. 11, the Falcons will have two new starters on the line that day. Center Todd McClure will miss the opener with a knee injury, and second-year pro Joe Hawley likely will get the start.

Rudy Carpenter in a starting role. He was Tampa Bay’s No. 3 quarterback last season. But Carpenter will get the start against the Redskins and there’s a lot riding on this one. Carpenter is in a competition with Jonathan Crompton for the No. 3 spot. But coach Raheem Morris admitted that it’s possible the Bucs may go into the regular season carrying only Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson on the active roster, which would free up a spot at another position. Carpenter needs a strong outing to prevent that from happening.

Observations on the Buccaneers

August, 6, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Buccaneers just finished their annual night practice at Raymond James Stadium, which also serves as sort of a fan festival. But there was plenty of football.

Let’s run through some observations.
  • Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who suffered a strained rotator cuff Friday, didn’t take part in the workout. But McCoy gave a fan a big thumbs-up when asked how he was feeling.
  • Cornerback E.J. Biggers made a spectacular leaping interception.
  • Cornerback Aqib Talib, who had some legal problems in the offseason, got a huge ovation when his name was announced to the crowd. Seconds later, he dropped what should have been an interception on a ball intended for Mike Williams that was thrown by Josh Freeman.
  • Former Bucs tight end Jimmie Giles was in the crowd and got a huge round of applause when he was shown on the scoreboard video screens.
  • Freeman looked sharp most of the night, particularly when throwing to tight end Kellen Winslow and Williams. But Freeman didn’t win the quarterback competition that was held at the end of the night. The quarterbacks all took turns throwing at targets on moving golf carts. The competition was won by third-stringer Rudy Carpenter.
  • He’s never been known as a speed back, but fullback Earnest Graham torched rookie linebacker in one-on-one coverage and caught a deep pass from Freeman.
  • I’ve been saying the Bucs need to add a solid veteran running back to play behind LeGarrette Blount. After watching Kregg Lumpkin, I think there’s at least a chance they might already have their backup.
  • Some excellent stuff from general manager Mark Dominik, who was interviewed during practice and the conversation was played on the video screens. Dominik had high praise for rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Then he delivered the line of the night when asked how he feels about his team right now. “It’s a team I want our town to fall back in love with,’’ Dominik said.

Best of NFL: NFC South players

June, 28, 2011
Best of NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

As part of Best of the NFL Week on, here are five bests for the NFC South:

Best leader: Drew Brees. I’ll make a case that he’s the best leader in the entire NFL. There are some other great leaders in this division, but Brees stands above them all. He’s gone out of his way to keep the Saints together during the lockout and that should pay dividends when the season gets here. Even before the lockout, Brees had complete control of the New Orleans locker room. A lot of people thought the Saints were taking a bad gamble when they brought in Jeremy Shockey a few years ago. Shockey was a controversial figure in New York and literally pushed quarterback Eli Manning around. Shockey had a short and relatively productive career in New Orleans and you rarely heard a peep out of him. That’s largely because Shockey was smart enough to realize you don’t challenge Brees.

[+] EnlargeCarolina's Steve Smith
Craig Jones/Getty ImagesSteve Smith celebrated a touchdown against the Vikings by rowing a boat.
Best celebrator: Steve Smith. The Carolina receiver has been limited a bit in recent years as the NFL has tightened its rules on celebrating. But think back a few years to when the Minnesota Vikings were in the middle of a scandal after a bye-week cruise on a party boat on a lake. The Panthers played the Vikings while the story was still hot. Smith scored a touchdown, sat down and began doing a rowing motion. When reporters asked him what that was all about after the game, Smith said something like “I was out on the lake." Smith had some other good celebrations, but that was the funniest I’ve ever seen.

Best short fuse: Smith. Do we even need to explain? He’s had at least three physical altercations with teammates. And there are some in Charlotte who say they’ve been able to literally hear ticking as Smith awaits the end of the lockout and some clarity on his future.

Best QB arm: Josh Freeman. Brees and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan have very good arms, but they’re not the kind of guys who can throw the ball 70 yards down the field. Freeman can do it. Heck, I was out at one of his offseason workouts in May and he and backups Rudy Carpenter and Josh Johnson were throwing at the goal post from the 50 yard line. That’s 60 yards. Carpenter and Johnson hit the middle of the post a couple of times, but you could tell they were putting everything they had into the throws. Freeman hit the middle of the post with ease and it didn’t even look like he was putting anything close to his full body into the throws.

Best actor (penalty division): Roddy White. Opponents will tell you the Falcons' wide receiver is a master at pushing off defensive backs. I’ve witnessed it on several occasions. Heck, I’ve even been in postgame interviews when White has kind of chuckled when asked if he might have gotten away with a push off on a big pass play.
If you saw Arrelious Benn working out with some of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates on a recent day, you never would have guessed the wide receiver had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament just about six months ago.

He was running and catching passes as a group of Bucs, led by quarterback Josh Freeman, went through drills. He even stayed on the field for some extra work as most of the other players strolled off.

“I’m way ahead of schedule,’’ Benn said.

A second-round draft pick last season, Benn started slowly but started to come on around midseason. But his season was cut short when he injured his knee in a Week 16 game against Seattle.

Benn wouldn’t reveal what kind of timetable he originally was given for a return when he had the surgery. But he said he thinks he’ll be ready for training camp if it starts on time.

Benn did most of his rehab work in Tampa and also was working out with backup quarterback Rudy Carpenter in California in recent weeks.

“I can run straight as fast as I want, but I still want to take it light,’’ Benn said.

Benn said he’s able to make cuts on the knee that wasn’t injured and should be able to do that on both knees soon.

“I’m new to the ACL thing, but I didn’t think I’d be back this fast,’’ Benn said. “I feel like it never happened. I’ve got to be smart. I’ve still got things coming back together in my knee.’’

Benn said he was cleared to run at full speed about three weeks ago and plans to continue taking part in Freeman’s workouts.
Josh FreemanKim Klement/US PresswireTampa Bay teammates have rallied around the leadership of Josh Freeman this offseason.

SOMEWHERE IN THE TAMPA BAY AREA -- It's late May and you literally could see the heat waves rising from the football field. Among them and above them, you could see something much larger.

The big man had a football in one hand and his cell phone in another. He was throwing a pass to one teammate while making plans with another for a future workout.

Through it all, you could see a very young quarterback further entrenching himself as the leader of his team. You could see Josh Freeman literally rising up and running the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from all (football) angles.

Very quietly, Freeman has been doing this off and on since late March. While guys like New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan have been leading some very public workouts for their teammates during the lockout, Freeman has been keeping things quiet. He asked that the location of Monday’s workout not be mentioned because he doesn’t want distractions.

“We have a lot of good character guys that are willing to put in the time in effort,’’ Freeman said. “It’s kind of a cultural thing around here. It means a lot to everybody. We take a lot of pride. Lockout or no lockout, we’re going to be ready to play.’’

You probably got the sense Freeman was emerging as a leader as the Bucs went a surprising 10-6 with the league’s youngest roster last season. You should have gotten the sense he was getting pretty powerful when he called a players-only meeting last season after a series of off-field incidents and told his teammates the trouble needed to stop.

He may be only 23 with only one full season as a starter, but there’s no longer any question about who’s running the Buccaneers.

“As the quarterback, you’re the leader of the team,’’ Freeman said.

It was more than obvious Freeman was the leader as the Bucs went through Monday’s workout. He’s the quarterback, but he’s so much more than that in the world of lockout limbo. He’s the coach, offensive coordinator, navigation system and travel planner of the Bucs.

[+] EnlargeTampa Bay's Arrelious Benn
Scott A. Miller/US PRESSWIREArrelious Benn has been "looking great" during offseason workouts according to quarterback Josh Freeman.
As he threw a pass to receiver Arrelious Benn (more on him in a bit), he was talking to a teammate who was having trouble finding the undisclosed location and, a few minutes later, was talking with another teammate about travel plans and the schedule for an upcoming workout.

“Where’s (receiver) Mike (Williams)?’’ Freeman said into his cell phone. “Have you talked to Mike? We need to find out when he’s coming in.’’

Soon after that Freeman put down the phone and started talking his teammates through a play that got messed up in one of the games against New Orleans last season.

“It’s hard to get everybody free and their schedules lined up,’’ Freeman said. But, at the same time, we want to provide options for guys to get down here and work out. Everybody knows we’re a young team and we had a lot of momentum coming off last season. We want to build on that and keep that going.’’

Freeman was quick to point out that backup quarterbacks Josh Johnson and Rudy Carpenter have been helping run the workouts and coordinate plans. But Johnson and Carpenter are backups and Freeman is the franchise quarterback, even though he can’t talk to anyone with the franchise. He’s relying mostly on the experience of going through the offseason between his rookie year and second season, when the team raved about Freeman showing up at One Buccaneer Place to work with offensive coordinator Greg Olson, quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt and head coach Raheem Morris.

“Basically, they taught me how to think like a coach,’’ Freeman said. “I was in there every day. We’d watch film, go out and do field work and talk about different concepts. We did a lot of protection calls. We would just meet for hours and I think that helped me get more comfortable with the offense, take more charge and go out there and play more confident football.’’

That showed on the field last season as Freeman carried Tampa Bay’s offense and it showed even more Monday. At a time when players aren’t even allowed to talk to coaches, Freeman is the closest thing the Bucs have to a coach.

“Luckily, we kind of prepared for it before the lockout and the coaches said, 'If this thing keeps going, here’s what you need to do in the offseason,'" Freeman said. “We went through the installs and all that and they let the quarterbacks know what they wanted installed.’’

Freeman’s been doing installations and more. He’s focused mostly on the offense so far, but some defensive players have shown up. Freeman said he’s been in touch with veteran cornerback Ronde Barber about getting more defensive players involved and possibly doing seven-on-seven drills if the lockout lingers.

“For a young team, the offseason is especially valuable,’’ Freeman said. “Get the guys together, get the time together and get the work in. You miss getting that time in at the facility, but we’re making do with what we’ve got.’’

Freeman said it’s been challenging at times to get large group practices organized because players are scattered across the country and a young team like the Bucs features a lot of players who make low salaries and can’t afford to travel constantly. But Freeman is doing his best to keep the Bucs together.

“Coming down here, there’s a peer pressure aspect to get into the weight room, get out on the field and get your work done,’’ Freeman said.

Speaking of peers, who has caught Freeman’s eye in the workouts?

“I will say (receiver) Sammie Stroughter his having an incredible offseason,’’ Freeman said. “So is (tight end) Kellen Winslow. Arrelious is obviously coming off his (torn ACL) injury, but he’s looking great as well. We have a number of guys playing great football right now. Kellen Winslow is just a guy that’s so impressive. He’s a guy that comes in and works out in the morning, then comes and gets the throwing part in and then he goes and works out some more.’’

Funny, but it’s easy to see that’s the same routine Freeman is following. The lockout’s not an ideal situation for anyone. But, with Freeman running things, the Bucs are in good hands.

“We’re just trying to stay together as a team and keep working on things,’’ Freeman said. “We watch some film and talk over plays and stuff like that -- just do the stuff a football team should be doing.”

NFC South MVP: Josh Freeman

January, 21, 2011
Josh FreemanKim Klement/US PresswireJosh Freeman threw for 3,451 yards this season, with 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions.
Let's not even bother with the setup. Let's just open the envelope and read what's inside.

The NFC South Most Valuable Player for the 2010 season is ... Josh Freeman.

Go ahead, start yelling and screaming in New Orleans and Atlanta. Throw eggs or whatever, but just be aware that I've got the alarm system on and since Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks, Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock are worried about the possibility of a lockout, I've hired them as guards.

Yep, I picked Freeman over Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. I picked him over Michael Turner and Roddy White too.

Let's be real clear: I'm not saying Freeman is a better quarterback than Brees, who is going to the Hall of Fame someday. I'm not even saying Freeman's better than Ryan, who has had three very nice years. I'm not even saying Freeman had a better season than Brees and Ryan or even Turner and White.

Go back and read the second paragraph and circle the word valuable. That's really the crux of all this. There are lots of ways you can give out MVP awards. But if you put the emphasis solely on the value a player had to his team, Freeman wins in a landslide.

That thought hit me Sunday morning on a plane from Atlanta to Tampa. I'd given some thought to Turner and White, but was pretty much ready to flip a coin to decide between Brees and Ryan. They both had nice regular seasons and they both got bounced in their first playoff games.

In other words, Brees and Ryan did exactly what was expected of them in the regular season, and I don't mean to sell that short as an accomplishment because the bar was set sky high for both of them. But did either of them really do anything special? Anything that was beyond expectations?

When I thought about it in those terms, that's when Freeman's name hit me and this decision was made.

"I think the most important thing is, in just about every game this season, Josh at least had us in a position to win the game,'' Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik said. "With a young team, that was hugely important, and he allowed us to accelerate our process. That made him incredibly valuable to us.''

I'll take it a little further than Dominik and say Freeman meant everything to the Buccaneers. He carried that team all season. For those who weren't paying attention, like the 30,000 who weren't showing up for games at Raymond James Stadium or the millions who couldn't watch Tampa Bay's games because they were blacked out on local television, the Bucs went from being 3-13 and a national embarrassment in 2009 to a 10-6 team that barely missed the playoffs.

Nobody expected anything close to that. And nobody expected anything like that from a quarterback who didn't celebrate his 23rd birthday until after the season was over, and who created an instant army of critics when Dominik made the then-ridiculous move of trading a sixth-round pick to move up and draft Freeman in 2009.

Everything Dominik and coach Raheem Morris did in 2009 seemed ridiculous. They signed Derrick Ward, fired both coordinators by midseason and lost a lot of games. But it turned out they did one thing right.

They drafted Freeman and, in his first season as a full-time starter, he made a lot of other things look right. He threw for 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was one of the 10 best in history, and he also used his legs to win games.

More than anything, Freeman used his back to carry the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay had the league's lowest payroll and had the youngest roster in the league and, if you really look at that roster, it wasn't all that good. Yes, some bright spots (running back LeGarrette Blount and receiver Mike Williams) emerged, but part of the reason they emerged was because they were playing with Freeman.

The Bucs had so many injuries on the offensive line that, by the end of the season, they were starting Ted Larsen, Jeremy Zuttah and Derek Hardman at the three interior positions. If you're not a close relative and had heard of any of those three before they were starting, it might be time to develop some other hobbies.

With all the changes around him, Freeman was the one constant. Other than his six interceptions, his stats didn't compare favorably to the numbers Brees and Ryan put up.

But let's do a little exercise here. Picture the Saints without Brees for a season. Put Chase Daniel in with all those weapons and Sean Payton calling the plays and the Saints still win a fair amount of games. Picture the Falcons with Chris Redman in for Ryan. It's the same thing. The Saints and the Falcons would at least be competitive without Brees and Ryan.

Now, picture the 2010 Buccaneers without Freeman. I say they would have been 0-16. If you disagree, go out to training camp this summer and watch a few plays with backups Josh Johnson and Rudy Carpenter under center.

That's why Freeman did more for his team than any NFC South player in 2010.

"The thing is people forget that he was only 22 this season,'' Dominik said. "He took big steps this year and that helped our whole team take some big steps. He's only going to get better in the future, and that's only going to help everyone around him get better in the future.''

Remember, all I'm saying is Freeman was more valuable to his team this year than anyone else. If what Dominik said about the progression of Freeman and the Bucs comes true in the future, then I might be back here with an update. I might end up writing that Freeman is a better quarterback than Brees and Ryan.

Quincy Black will play for Buccaneers

December, 5, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. – The Buccaneers appear to be catching a bit of a break on the injury front.

Linebacker Quincy Black, who was listed as questionable, is expected to play and start today. His backup Dekoda Watson (shoulder) has been declared inactive.

The other inactives for the Bucs are Larry Asante, Brandon Carter, Will Barker, Preston Parker, Dezmon Briscoe and Frank Okam. Rudy Carpenter has been designated as the third quarterback.

The Bucs also are saying James Lee will start over Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle. Trueblood had been the starter. He missed some time with an injury and Lee played well in his absence. Now that Trueblood is close to full health, coach Raheem Morris has indicated the two will compete for the starting job each week.

Also, at least according to the depth chart, the Bucs will start Corey Lynch at free safety. That spot came open when Cody Grimm suffered a season-ending injury. But don’t be surprised if cornerback Ronde Barber gets some work at safety.
Some good news on the injury front for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood and fullback Earnest Graham will be back in the starting lineup when the Bucs take on the San Francisco 49ers later this afternoon.

Trueblood missed the past three games with a knee injury, while Graham sat out the past two games with a hamstring injury.

Linebacker Quincy Black (ankle) and defensive end Kyle Moore (shoulder) each will miss their second straight game. Adam Hayward is expected to start in Black’s place while Tim Crowder will start for Moore.

The other inactives for the Bucs are fullback Erik Lorig, tackle Will Barker, tackle Derek Hardman, wide receiver Preston Parker and defensive tackle Ryan Sims. Rudy Carpenter will be the third quarterback.

Bucs minus three starters

November, 14, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. – No major surprises among Tampa Bay’s inactives, but the Bucs will be without several injured starters.

Defensive end Kyle Moore, linebacker Quincy Black and fullback Earnest Graham are inactive. Injured defensive tackle Ryan Sims also is inactive. Receiver Sammie Stroughter, defensive back Myron Lewis and offensive lineman Will Barker also are inactive.

Rudy Carpenter has been designated as the third quarterback.

Bucs without three starters

November, 7, 2010
ATLANTA – As expected, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without several injured starters for today’s game.

Center Jeff Faine, tackle Jeremy Trueblood and fullback Earnest Graham are all on the inactive list. Defensive tackle Ryan Sims, defensive end Alex Magee, cornerback Myron Lewis and receiver Sammie Stroughter also are inactive. Rudy Carpenter is the third quarterback.

Cornerback Dominique Franks, linebacker Spencer Adkins, tackle Garrett Reynolds, guard Mike Johnson, tight end Justin Peelle, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and defensive tackle Trey Lewis are inactive for the Falcons. John Parker Wilson is the third quarterback.
TAMPA, Fla. -- With his right hand wrapped in tape covering a splint on his thumb, Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman pledged to be back for the Sept. 12 regular season opener against Cleveland.

“You can’t look at it like everything is lost, because it’s not,’’ Freeman said after the Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 20-15 in a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium.

Freeman fractured the tip of the thumb on his throwing hand when he hit it on a helmet during the first quarter and exited the game immediately. He almost certainly will not play in the final two preseason games.

“I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to practice the week before the opener,’’ Freeman said. “You can spin it anyway, but I choose to spin it positive.’’

Freeman said, although he won’t be able to throw or practice with the team anytime soon, he will begin doing film preparation for the Cleveland game. He also said he still will be able to do footwork drills.

The only other quarterbacks on the roster are Josh Johnson and Rudy Carpenter. Coach Raheem Morris said he’s not sure if the Bucs will sign another quarterback.

“I’ll sit down with (general manager) Mark Dominik (Sunday) and we’ll see what we want to do and how we’re going to attack it,’’ Morris said.