|Bruised ribs could sideline Cadillac Williams against Saints|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 10 September 2007 10:06|
Bruised ribs forced the third-year pro to sit out part of the Bucs' season-opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks. They could sideline him again Sunday when New Orleans (0-1) visits Raymond James Stadium for Tampa Bay's home opener.
Williams, who was slowed much of last season by injuries, will be listed as questionable for this week's game. If he can't play, Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham will share the workload against the Saints.
``Unfortunately, we're good at one thing now, offensively, and that's contingency planning. We've had a number of guys in and out of our lineup the last few seasons,'' said Gruden, who has used eight different starting quarterbacks since arriving in Tampa Bay in 2002.
``We're going to count on Cadillac playing, optimistically. But realistically, we understand he does have sore ribs. We'll plan for the other guys to have a bigger role in the ball game.''
Williams' importance to the offense is underscored by the fact that the Bucs are 9-0 in games in which he carries the ball at least 21 times. He had 12 carries for 60 yards before leaving Sunday's 20-6 loss after being hit simultaneously by two Seahawks in the third quarter.
Gruden said initial X-rays did not reveal any broken ribs. Quarterback Jeff Garcia was helped off the field during the same drive, but returned to the game.
``Bruised ribs are no fun for a running back in the opening game of the season. I think he had the same thing happen to him last year,'' said Gruden, who also may have to make a roster move if Williams can't play against New Orleans.
The Bucs played the season opener with only four running backs, a byproduct of the coach's decision to keep four quarterbacks at a time when most teams carry three and some only have two.
Williams rushed for 1,178 yards to run away with the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2005, but was bothered by injuries much of last season when he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and finished with 798 yards and one touchdown.
``I don't know a lot of backs who I've been around who ever feel good after the opening game of the season. They've got sore elbows, they've got sore ribs, they've got sore backs, they've got sore legs,'' Gruden said.
``It's a violent profession. Those guys get hit. ... If he can go, and the trainers feel like he can go, he's going to go. We hope that he can.''
Williams was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, Gruden said cornerback Brian Kelly is questionable for the New Orleans game because of a groin strain. Receiver David Boston injured a foot during pregame warmups at Seattle and is probable. Defensive end Patrick Chukwurah missed the opener with a sore knee that will also keep him out against the Saints.