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Galloway injury adds to troubles

Bucs' struggling offense loses WR for 4-6 weeks with "significant" tear in groin.

Published September 14, 2004

TAMPA - The only offensive player to locate the end zone for the Bucs Sunday will have trouble getting back on the field for at least a month.

Receiver Joey Galloway suffered a "significant" tear on the left side of his groin in the 16-10 loss at Washington and will miss four to six weeks.

Galloway was injured on a play in which he got behind the defense but dropped a pass in the end zone. He aggravated an injury that had prevented him from playing in the final two preseason games.

"It's very disappointing, obviously, that the injury looks to be a little more serious than we had expected," coach Jon Gruden said.

Galloway will not have surgery and is expected to return this season. But his absence leaves the Bucs without a proven deep threat at receiver. Charles Lee, who was inactive for Sunday's game, will replace Galloway in the home opener against Seattle.

"It was a big loss for our team yesterday," Gruden said. "Hopefully, he makes a quick recovery because we need him. There will be no surgery, from what I understand, but he will basically be off his feet for two weeks, then continue to rehab. ... He was cleared to play; he practiced well. He just made a slight turn for the ball and aggravated it on the way down. It's just unfortunate. We're going to miss him."

Galloway's injury comes at a position the Bucs didn't need more setbacks. Receiver Joe Jurevicius, who had recovered from knee surgery, failed a physical on the first day of training camp because of a herniated disc and is out for five more games on the reserve/nonfootball injury list. Promising young receiver Edell Shepherd broke his foot in the preseason opener and was placed in injured reserve. And Keenan McCardell is embroiled in a nasty hold out.

General manager Bruce Allen said Galloway's injury will have no impact on the contract stalemate with McCardell.

"It's difficult because we've been adjusting," Gruden said. "(The injuries) has put us in a period of contingency plans. But to lose Galloway is a big blow to us. It's certainly a big loss to our football team, a guy who we thought could come in and give us some advantages, strategically."

Concern over the Bucs' worst offensive performance under Gruden was the main topic at his news conference Monday.

Tampa Bay was held to 169 total yards - 30th in the NFL entering Monday night's Green Bay-Carolina game - and was ineffective against the Redskins' relentless array of blitzes.

Quarterback Brad Johnson was sacked four times, lost a fumble and was intercepted. But it was the Bucs' lack of a running game - 30 yards on 15 carries - that forced Johnson to attempt 37 passes.

"If I have to point one finger, I'll just point that finger right at myself," Gruden said. "I thought we'd play better offensively. I thought we'd be better. But we weren't for a lot of reasons."

It was the first time under Gruden that Johnson had failed to direct the Bucs to at least one touchdown. But despite Sunday's performance, Gruden said Johnson and the offense had plenty of chances to make plays.

"I think when he looks at the film, as we looked at it this morning, he sees a couple of opportunities that got away from him," Gruden said of Johnson. "It's a combination of all of us. We enjoy the good times together and we have to go through some tough times and bumps along the road together also. There were some opportunities I'm sure he would like back, but unfortunately, you don't get a second chance."

The Bucs' inability to run the football put more pressure on the passing game, according to Gruden. Running back Charlie Garner finished with just 25 yards on 11 carries. But Gruden said it was difficult to remain committed to the ground game, especially with the team's lack of success on first down.

"We've got to have success when we run the ball," Gruden said. "We can't go from 1 yard, 2 yards, 0 yards in repeated situations. You see a team that's continually blitzing us and we didn't fight back in other avenues. So we've got to stay committed to it and that's what we're going to make an effort to do this week.

"Our first down success rate has to be much improved for us to become, I think, a purely balanced team and a really good rushing team.

The Bucs did not pick up a first down against the Redskins until midway through the second quarter. Center John Wade said the offense has to start faster and move the chains even if the possession does not result in a score.

"We've just got to start faster ... on first down, 1 yard ain't getting it, whether we run or pass," Wade said. "Going to second and 9, second and 10 is not what you're going to do. That goes back to starting fast on first down, whether it be the first quarter or the third or the fourth."

One thing is certain. Unless the Bucs learn to beat the blitz, they are bound to see more of it this season.

"We look forward to the blitz," Gruden said. "That's where you get some opportunities to make some big plays. ... We're going to get our share of blitzes just like everybody else. We do have to pick these blitzes up and we have to deliver some plays along the way or it will be a long season."

-- Times staff writer Roger Mills contributed to this report.

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