By JOANNE KORTH, ROGER MILLS and RICK STROUD
Published October 30, 2003
TAMPA - In his 13th season, quarterback Brad Johnson knows when he needs a little rest.
He needed some Wednesday.
Johnson, who has a sore throwing elbow, took limited reps in practice. The soreness does not appear to concern the Bucs, but given that backup Shaun King has a sprained ankle, the team might add some insurance.
Former backup Rob Johnson, recently released by the Redskins, attended practice.
"We're biased to former Bucs," coach Jon Gruden said. "He's available and we want to make sure that we all understand there are nine games to go and you can never have enough guys who know your stuff. We're still mad at Rob that he left us. We'll see what happens."
King, who has played well this season, is probable for Sunday's game against the Saints. Chris Simms is the emergency quarterback, but Gruden does not want to rush the rookie into action.
Rob Johnson, a ninth-year pro, was the Bucs' backup last season. He started two games and played in four in relief of Brad Johnson, completing 57-of-88 for 536 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. But he struggled at times to move the ball and was sacked 19 times for minus-94 yards.
"Although maybe it wasn't statistically as smooth as we had hoped," Gruden said, "he was 2-0 as a starter and he's the first Bucs quarterback to win a game in sub-30 weather and he was the backup quarterback on a world championship team."
JUREVICIUS RETURNS: Six weeks after tearing the MCL in his right knee, receiver Joe Jurevicius practiced Wednesday and participated in most full-speed drills.
Listed as questionable, Jurevicius expects to know Friday whether he will play Sunday.
"I have every intention of getting out there as soon as I can," said Jurevicius, who has missed five games since being injured Sept. 14 against the Panthers.
"This was the first significant amount of work that I did in terms of running and breaking and doing football-related activity. I felt good, but I just have to take it day by day. I'd love to tell you right now that I'm going to play Sunday, and there's a chance. If it doesn't happen it doesn't happen, but I am very close to playing."
Jurevicius was in a cast for two weeks while the ligament healed. He walked gingerly for several more weeks but said he has made tremendous progress since last week.
"We'd like to see him take every rep again and get back into the rhythm he had before the injury," Gruden said. "He's made quick strides recovering, and as soon as we see it play after play after play, we'll put him out there and play him."
Jurevicius had eight catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns, both acrobatic plays, before being injured the second game.
"I can run straight ahead all day and feel fine, but it's running full speed, having to dodge a linebacker or safety or cornerback and get back on my horse and gallop off as fast as I can, that's where the problems come in," he said. "Once I can work through that and get myself physically prepared to play a football game, then I'll be out there doing the things I did when I left."
LYNCH IMPROVING: Safety John Lynch practiced Wednesday but is being held out of contact drills for the second week because of nerve damage in his right shoulder and remains questionable.
"I was really pleased with the way I felt," said Lynch, who did not play against the Cowboys. "I went out there, ran around. I think I made 30 tackles on the scout team. I was all over the field. Coach Gruden got mad at me."
Lynch, who experienced stingers three consecutive weeks, said the nerve damage calmed considerably last week, but he does not have full strength in the shoulder.
"I think the nerve issues have settled down, but it's a matter of building back your strength," he said. "That's coming, but it doesn't happen real fast."
ROSTER MOVE: The team signed safety David Gibson, its sixth-round draft pick in 2000 who spent two-plus seasons with Tampa Bay before being traded to the Colts in 2002.
Gibson started nine games for the Colts last season but was released at the end of training camp. He played in 25 games for the Bucs and has 93 career tackles, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Fullback Cecil Martin was released.
INJURY REPORT: Safety John Howell strained his left hamstring during practice and is questionable. Cornerback Ronde Barber (right hamstring strain) and running back Michael Pittman (left hamstring strain) were limited in practice and are probable. Cornerback Hank Poteat (right hamstring strain) and guard Jason Whittle (left shoulder sprain) are probable.