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Return of Galloway will provide a boost

RICK STROUD
Published October 31, 2004

TAMPA - The element Joey Galloway adds to an offense is speed, so it's no surprise he tried to come back too fast from a preseason groin strain.

The result: Galloway made the injury worse, tearing a groin muscle in the season opener at Washington and spending six weeks on the inactive list.

"I probably did (try to come back too soon), and it was on me," he said. "A new situation, a new team, I was excited. We were excited, everybody was excited. So, yeah, I probably pushed it faster than I should have. But that's over with and we focus on getting ready as quickly as possible."

When will Galloway be ready? Probably not in time for next weekend's game against the Chiefs. There's an outside chance he could play Nov. 14 at Atlanta.

"It's going to happen sometime," Galloway said. "I'm working extremely hard. Things have gone as well as we ever could've expected them to go. I feel pretty good. I'm still pretty sore. But we have to take it as it comes, really."

The Bucs had big plans for Galloway, whose career has been sabotaged many times by injuries. When healthy, he still has the ability to stretch a defense. And his injury also cost the Bucs' their best punt returner, forcing 38-year-old Tim Brown into the role.

With the return of receiver Joe Jurevicius , and running back Michael Pittman back from a three-game suspension, the Bucs offense has recouped some of its key components. A healthy Galloway could give the Bucs a boost during their stretch of division games.

"I think the key is to get on a roll," Galloway said. "We're starting to get some key parts that we expected to have. We're still missing some key guys, but offensively, I think once we get back in there, when everyone is healthy and we're ready to roll, I think we're going to be pretty good.

"The best part about it is everything is still ahead of us. We've got to see everyone still, some of those teams twice. I think early on, everyone got a little down, except the guys in the locker room. We still have a vision that if we continue to win, everything will take care of itself.

"If I can come back healthy, play in these games, and this team wins enough games to get into the playoffs, then everything is fine."

STATE OF THE BUCS: General manager Bruce Allen blames the Bucs' poor start on their rash of turnovers. Tampa Bay is minus-4 in giveaway/takeaway ratio. In fact, only four teams - the Raiders, Dolphins, Browns and 49ers - have more than the 14 turnovers committed by the Bucs this season.

"We're 2-5 and we've had some critical turnovers," Allen said. "That's not Buc football. It's the reverse if you look at the success that's occurred here, it's the opposite. Otherwise, I feel the team is going to prove itself out the rest of the season.

"The game plans and the effort have been magnificent, really. That Rams game, when you look back at it, we made seven terrible errors. In the NFL, when you make seven terrible errors, you lose by a bunch. We still had a chance to win. I feel good about the infrastructure. We've got to do a better job with the turnovers."

As for injuries to veterans like Charlie Garner and Galloway, both 32, Allen said they are not age-related. "What are you going to say about Edell Shepherd?" Allen said. " DeShaun Foster is out in Carolina and Steve Smith. Injuries are going to happen in the NFL. There's going to be some ugly injuries and some freak injuries you try to prevent by the offseason programs and whatnot in the offseason."

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