By ROGER MILLS and JOANNE KORTH
Published September 25, 2003
TAMPA - On Sept.4, Shelton Quarles fell awkwardly in a special teams drill and broke his left forearm.
Wednesday, less than three weeks later, Quarles was back at practice, and he hopes to return Oct.6 for the Monday night game against the Colts.
It's a stretch, but Quarles, who will wear a brace on the arm, is confident that it is possible.
"For me, I feel like I am (on pace to play)," Quarles said. "Everything is going well and I'm getting a little bit more flexibility, a little bit more strength. I've been working the heck out of it trying to get it ready to play. Ultimately, it's not my decision to make. The physician has to release me and get rid of his liability as far as messing up my arm."
Quarles, who played in the Pro Bowl last season, has a plate, screws and wire in the arm and said the speed of the healing process will determine how soon he is back in a game.
"They say that it takes three to four weeks before bone starts to form whenever you have a break," Quarles said. "Mine actually started forming after two weeks. So it's not because of anything I've done, but it's because of God. That's got it to this point so far. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks I have some more bone growth and (the doctor) releases me to play."
In his absence, Nate Webster has filled in admirably as the starter, but Quarles said he isn't rushing back for fear of losing his job.
"He's been doing a good job, so I haven't had much to say," Quarles said. "It's a good thing when you see someone in there and he's playing your position and doing a good job, then there's not much for me to do other than try my best to get better.
"It would be different if he was in there messing up and not doing his job, then that would put a little more pressure on me to come back sooner. But it's not the case. He's playing great."
KICKER LOVE: Veteran punter Tom Tupa's solid training camp and preseason have carried over to the regular season, and he is getting national recognition.
Tupa, in his 15th season out of Ohio State, was named the NFC special teams player of the week. In the Bucs' 31-10 road win against the Falcons, Tupa punted seven times for 355 yards, an average of 50.7, the second-best in a game in team history.
"Tom Tupa is a real bright spot for us," coach Jon Gruden said. "He's hitting the ball extremely well. Obviously we're pleased with him."
Tupa also had a 60-yard punt against the Falcons, the fifth-longest in the league this season. His 47.9-yard average is second in the NFC and fourth in the league.
Former Bucs safety Dexter Jackson, in his first season with the Cardinals, was named the NFC defensive player of the week for his performance in a 20-13 win over the Packers. Jackson had 11 tackles and the clinching interception in the end zone with 10 seconds left.
SNOOP'S IN THE HOUSE: Receiver Marvin "Snoop" Minnis had his first practice since signing a two-year deal with the team on Tuesday, and he said he is eager to learn the offense.
"I have to get this down because I want to get on the field as quickly as possible to help the team," Minnis said.
Minnis, a third-round draft pick of the Chiefs in 2001, had a productive rookie season and has 34 career catches for 515 yards and one touchdown.
The former Florida State standout spent the bulk of his second season on the injured list before he was released on Aug.31.
Minnis is known for his speed, and he expects the Bucs to maximize his potential.
"If they actually need somebody to go deep, I think they can rely on me," Minnis said. "Whatever they want. I can play any position on offense."
INJURY REPORT: Receiver Joe Jurevicius (knee sprain) is doubtful. Quarles (left forearm fracture) has been upgraded to questionable. Left guard Cosey Coleman (right ankle sprain) and running back Michael Pittman (left wrist sprain) are probable.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!: John Lynch is among several local celebrities making cameo appearances in the John Travolta movie the Punisher being filmed in Tampa. Lynch shot his part Tuesday night.
"It seemed like a fun idea, and it was," Lynch said. "It was a good opportunity to meet John Travolta and be a part of something like that."
In the movie, Lynch greets Travolta's character at the opening of a nightclub.
Lynch estimates his on-screen time at about two seconds. And, no, he is not starting a second career.