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 TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Michael Bennett sat in a mostly empty locker room, answering questions about his debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the challenge of learning a new offense in the middle of season.
``It's like telling me to go out there and cook a gourmet dish,'' Bennett said Monday. ``I'm still putting the recipe together. It's a week-to-week process.''
Situations like his are becoming commonplace for the Bucs (4-3).
The injury-depleted team acquired Bennett last week to address a need for experienced help at running back.
This week they're in the market for receivers because of injuries to Michael Clayton and Mark Jones.
Clayton, the team's No. 3 receiver, sprained his right ankle during Sunday's 23-16 loss at Detroit, although coach Jon Gruden said he would not know the severity until after receiving results of a MRI exam.
The news was more definitive on Jones, the team's primary kick and punt returner, as well as a reserve receiver.
Jones is out for the season after tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee, an injury similar to the one that ended running back Carnell ``Cadillac'' Williams' season four weeks ago. The Bucs traded for Bennett after Williams' backup, Michael Pittman, sprained his ankle and could be out for up to two months.
``It's frustrating,'' said Gruden, adding that the Bucs are looking for help at receiver, even though it may be difficult to bring in someone capable of making an immediate contribution.
``It's not major league baseball. You can't make a trade, put a guy in your lineup and say go play right field and hit fourth. No disrespect to baseball, but you've got to know the formations, you've got to know snap count, you've got to know the audible system, the 2-minute package. All the things you learn in training camp, (offseason workouts) and things of that nature.''
Bennett, a former 1,000-yard runner at Minnesota, practiced with the Bucs for the first time last Wednesday. He carried just three times for 22 yards, but might have gotten a few more opportunities if the Bucs hadn't fallen behind early and trailed the entire game.
``We got into a 2-minute mode, and I'm not comfortable with that yet,'' the seventh-year pro said.
Gruden was encouraged by what Bennett was able to accomplish on short notice against the Lions.
The running back provided a glimpse of what he's capable of doing with an 18-yard carry to the Detroit 1, but an opportunity to cut into a 16-7 fourth-quarter deficit slipped away when Jeff Garcia lost a fumble on the next play.
Bennett's role figures to expand as he becomes more familiar with the offense.
``I don't think he knows most of his coaches or teammates by name or number yet, but he got in and got three carries. I think he played five or six plays. ... Hopefully we can get him out there more next week,'' Gruden said.
Meanwhile, the coach said cornerback Brian Kelly (groin) and tight end Alex Smith (ankle) are improving but remain ``very questionable'' for Sunday's game against Jacksonville. Kelly, Smith and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah (shoulder) did not make the trip to Detroit.
``We do have some guys that are closing in on returning,'' Gruden said. ``But I can't say that I feel good about when they will return or their status until I see them running around on the practice field.''

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