By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 11, 2002
TAMPA -- Tight end Dave Moore missed his second straight day of practice Thursday with a right shoulder sprain and the Bucs aren't certain he'll be available for Saturday's game in Philadelphia.
"We don't know, it's a shoulder sprain and we think it'll be better by Saturday and he'll be ready to go," coach Tony Dungy said. "But I would have to say right now, he's questionable."
In recent weeks, Moore has become more active in the passing game, including three catches against the Saints and the Ravens. Should he be unable to play, the Bucs will miss the experience of a 10-year veteran who finished the season with 35 catches for 285 yards and a team-high four receiving touchdowns.
"We'll just see on Saturday," Dungy said. "It's that time of year where if one guy can't go, the next guy will have to step up. If he isn't (ready to play) Todd (Yoder) and Mike (Roberg) will step in and do a good job."
Yoder, his backup, has earned a name for himself recently with solid play on special teams. The second-year player said he's ready.
"Last week's game was really a good tuneup for me because I played a lot," Yoder said. "It's a perfect time for it to happen. I feel comfortable being in there and being able to get the job done. If it happens, I'm looking forward to getting the chance."
DEADLY DONOVAN: The Bucs have seen enough of him to have a strong idea of what his preferences are and in what situations. Either way, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb presents quite the challenge for any defense with his ability to run or pass.
He has not been as inclined to run as much this season as in the past, but the Bucs plan to prepare for anything.
"It all depends," linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "Whether he runs or passes is up to him. Certain situations, he's decided not to run and throw the ball and others, he's run and made plays. Our job is to go out and play our defense and make him make adjustments to us and not us make adjustments to him."
One thing the Bucs aren't likely to do is assign a linebacker or defensive end to "spy" on McNabb, or follow him wherever he moves.
"We don't really do that type of thing," defensive end Steve White said. "Our thing is getting after the quarterback. Even though he's a special guy running the ball as well as throwing it, we're going to stick to our game plan and stick to our guns. We've faced a lot of mobile quarterbacks this year, so we're ready for this type of situation."
BLOCKING HUGH: One of the more intriguing matchups could occur at left tackle where rookie Kenyatta Walker faces the task on controlling Eagles Pro Bowl defensive end Hugh Douglas.
In last season's playoff game, Douglas tormented Bucs left tackle George Hegamin and his sack/forced fumble late in the second quarter was one of the game's big turning points.
"He's a good player," Walker said. "The good thing is it's not my first time going against somebody good. I think my playing level has stepped up a lot. I've gone from maybe making 10 or 11 missed assignments to making one or two a game. I'm getting familiar with the position.
"There's only so much studying you can do. You can play up this Hugh/Kenyatta thing or whatever, but you just have to go out there and play. What's going to determine it is who wanted it the worst out there."
Eagles coach Andy Reid, who described Walker as a "pretty good player," agrees the matchup could prove critical. "We figure there will be some great individual battles within this game and I think that will be one of them," Reid said.
BUCS BIT: Adamant to get off on good footing, the Bucs will leave for Philadelphia early this morning. The Bucs usually leave around midafternoon the day before games, but the team plans to conduct a walk-through practice on Veterans Stadium this afternoon.
INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle James Cannida (abdominal strain) and running back Rabih Abdullah (foot) didn't practice, and along with linebacker Nate Webster (shoulder) and defensive end Marcus Jones (shoulder) are questionable.
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