tampabay.com

Cadillac may be stepping lightly at first

By RICK STROUD
Published October 30, 2005


Cadillac Williams may be back in the lineup today against the 49ers, but it could take time before his explosive running style returns.

The rookie running back strained tendons in the arch of his left foot, the kind of injury that is likely to affect his confidence, veteran Michael Pittman said.

Three years ago, Pittman sprained his ankle in the first training camp workout and admits he never was the same that season.

"When a running back has an injury to the lower part of his body, that's the worst injury to have," Pittman said. "When it comes down to your knees, your ankles, your foot, those are the worst to have.

"I can see Cadillac out there. He's working his hardest, but he ain't there. I'm not going to say he's not the same Cadillac, but you can tell that he's still hurt right now."

In his first season with the Bucs, Pittman says, he was limited by his ankle injury. His only 100-yard rushing day came in the Super Bowl victory over the Raiders.

"With an injury, mentally, you're really not almost there," Pittman said. "It's like when I had an (injured) ankle a few years back. The thing about it is, mentally, you worry about somebody hitting that ankle instead of just going out there executing your assignments like you know how to. I'm not going to say Cadillac is going to respond the same way."

HERE COMES THE BLITZ: It's hardly a secret. The 49ers are going to come out against the Bucs launching an array of blitzes at Chris Simms.

"There's so many different blitzes now," coach Jon Gruden said. "Three-man line, four-man line, everybody's covered, full blitzing, zone blitzing, man blitzing. When you're on the road, there's not a lot of continuity on offenses anymore. I'm not making excuses, but false starts are sky high. I saw six or seven in one game.

"If you want to have an audible, you need to practice your audibles. That being said, splits need to be adjusted, calls need to be changed and sometimes not everybody gets the audible because it's loud as hell out there."

COPYCAT LEAGUE: Time was when the Bucs would have to prepare for a 3-4 defense only once or twice a year. Now it's commonplace, thanks in part to the success of the New England Patriots.

"We've seen a lot of 3-4s lately," Gruden said. "The 49ers are into the 3-4, the Dolphins have gone to the 3-4, the Jets ran a 3-4. So this is three weeks in a row of the 3-4 and everybody to some degree has the 3-4.

"Nowadays, they're not only in the 3-4, on the next play, they're in a 4-3. John Abraham-, Julian Peterson-, Andre Carter-type characters playing outside linebacker. You don't want a back blocking those guys very often unless you want your head caved in. So they create some confusion and change your calls, they change your system by moving a guy two feet. It's good stuff, it really is."