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Jenkins, Walker add to line's injury woes

By JAMAL THALJI and RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2002


TAMPA -- Kerry Jenkins knew right away something was wrong.

TAMPA -- Kerry Jenkins knew right away something was wrong.

The free-agent left guard acquired in the offseason left Monday night's game in the second quarter with a cracked left fibula, adding to Tampa Bay's woes on the offensive line.

The injury occurred on third and 4 at the 50 with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first half on the Bucs' touchdown drive. On the play, Jenkins was called on a tripping penalty, negating a 9-yard completion to Keenan McCardell.

"We had a pass play (called), a three-step drop," Jenkins said. "When I went to cut he ran behind me so I threw my legs back and that's what did it."

Jenkins said he stayed in for one more play then had to leave.

"I knew when I did it, but I didn't know exactly how bad it was so I played the next play, and then there was no way (I could stay in)," he said. "It was pretty painful."

Jenkins, who left the locker room on crutches with a boot secured around his left leg, said he didn't know when he would return.

Reserve Todd Washington replaced him for the rest of the game.

Then, with 14:11 left, right tackle Kenyatta Walker came off the field with a sprained left ankle and did not return. Replacing him was backup Cornell Green.

That meant all seven offensive linemen were either in the game or injured with reserve tackle Lomas Brown on the inactive list.

BIG TARGETS: It didn't take Bucs coach Jon Gruden long to find a way to use Rickey Dudley. But then, Gruden found use for all of his tight ends Monday night.

Dudley, making his first appearance after signing Wednesday, caught a 9-yard touchdown from Brad Johnson with 1 minute left in the first half to put the Bucs up 13-7.

Dudley was the third tight end in the formation and sprinted free into the end zone behind the secondary where he was uncovered for the reception.

Dudley caught another pass for 6 yards in the third quarter.

"It was just a simple play," Dudley said. "I just had to make a catch. Everybody else did the hard part. We knew all week what they were going to do, and we were just waiting until that moment to do it."

Marco Battaglia did not dress. He was placed on the inactive list.

MISSING IN ACTION: Is what the Rams offense was after Marshall Faulk limped off the field with 10:28 left in the second quarter. He was injured after being walloped in the backfield by Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Faulk was running to his left when Brooks rushed past left guard Tom Nutten and caught the Rams running back low, sending him tumbling onto his head and shoulders.

Faulk was in an awkward position when defensive end Ellis Wyms finished off the play, folding the All-Pro like an accordion into the turf. The play lost 2 yards.

The Bucs went three-and-out on their next possession and Faulk went to the locker room with 8:13 left to be treated for a neck strain. He had six carries for 9 yards. Backup Trung Canidate replaced him. The X-rays at halftime were negative and coach Mike Martz told ABC that Faulk would not return. Martz said Faulk would have an MRI today in St. Louis.

GIVE HIM THE BALL: Simeon Rice joined the Bucs' interception parade with 4:39 left in the second quarter and just in the nick of time. The Rams were driving for their second score and facing second and 9 at the Bucs' 16 when Kurt Warner took the snap, planted and fired a pass to his left. But covering the slant route was Rice, who stepped back into coverage from his defensive end position.

Rice snagged the interception at the 14 and motored 30 yards to the Tampa Bay 44, where he was tackled by Canidate. That turnover set up the Bucs' first touchdown, when Johnson hit Dudley with a 9-yard scoring pass with 57 seconds left in the half to take a 13-7 lead.

It was the second interception of Rice's seven-year career.

Safety Dexter Jackson, cornerback Brian Kelly and Brooks also had interceptions.

* * *

SIDELINE SPAT: Keyshawn Johnson and Gruden had an animated sideline altercation, this time for real.

A week after both denied FOX-TV reports that they argued during the Bucs' 25-0 win at Baltimore, Johnson and Gruden were caught by ABC-TV cameras embroiled in a sideline spat.

According to Gruden, he was upset Johnson lined up in the wrong formation during a play.

"He gets upset with me at times," Gruden said. "Hopefully it's nothing personal. We had an alignment error early on and I was doing some investigating on the sideline."

"It was a misunderstanding on his part," Johnson said. "He thought I lined up wrong and he took me out of the game. Later, he came to me and said he was wrong, but I shouldn't have come out of the game. I don't ever want to come out of games."

SIT DOWN: Former Buc Jamie Duncan, the unrestricted free-agent middle linebacker who signed with the Rams in the offseason, was benched before the game.

GOOD TURNOUT: The announced crowd of 65,562 was the fourth-largest in Raymond James history. The largest was Dec. 18, 2000, when Tampa Bay defeated St. Louis 38-35.

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