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Kelly growing concerned about foot
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published September 19, 2006
TAMPA - Coach Jon Gruden considers injured cornerback Brian Kelly probable for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, but Kelly seems less certain about his health.
Kelly has turf toe, an injury to the joint connecting his big toe and foot. He is hesitant to make any claims about his availability until he knows more about the extent of his injury.
Kelly describes the condition as degenerative and, considering he has been experiencing discomfort for three years, he is growing more concerned.
"This is something I've been dealing with," Kelly said Monday. "I've had it for a while. It's just something that's not getting better. It's continuing to get worse."
Kelly made the trip to Atlanta last weekend but decided before the game he wasn't comfortable playing through the significant pain without knowing more about the injury. Kelly will travel to see a foot specialist today in hopes of learning exactly what he is facing. He said the coaching staff understood his decision to sit out.
"This week I'm going to go make sure it's okay and then come back and make sure I'm ready to go and hopefully we'll be all set," he said.
Kelly is staunchly opposed to taking pain-killing injections, particularly when he isn't clear on the extent of the injury and whether more damage could occur by him playing.
"You can take a shot every day if you wanted to," he said. "I want to make sure that what I'm doing is not going to hinder me further down the road.
"I'm not one for just taking shots, especially on a foot. So, I just want to make sure it doesn't get any worse. I'm fine playing with pain. I tried to play with half a chest when I tore my (pectoral muscle). I just have to make sure it's something I'm comfortable with."
Kelly pointed to a prime example of what such an injury can do to a career, mentioning former All-Pro Deion Sanders. Sanders' career nearly ended in the late 1990s after a long struggle with this same injury.
NO SECOND GUESSES: Gruden bristled Monday when it was suggested the Bucs could have made a more concerted effort to run the ball throughout Sunday's 14-3 loss to Atlanta.
"Not when we're behind," he said. "It's 14-3 with eight minutes left. We're obviously not going to run the ball and let the clock put us out of the game. We're going to have to throw the football when we're behind by 11 points with eight or nine minutes left in the game."
Still, the Bucs had chances to run in the first half, too. But one-third of Cadillac Williams' carries came on the Bucs' first possession. He got only four carries the rest of the half. He finished with 37 yards on 15 carries.
Williams said his health - namely the back spasms he has been experiencing of late - is not an issue.
"I'm fine," he said Monday.
"The back is not a problem. I played (Sunday) and the back didn't give me any trouble. It doesn't affect me at all as far as running the ball. It's just that once I get to the sideline, I have to keep moving and keep heat on it, otherwise it'll tighten up."
SILVER LINING: One offensive bright spot Sunday was improved pass blocking. Gruden gushed when asked about the subject.
"It was tremendous," Gruden said. "It's one of the disappointing things. We should have completed a lot more balls. The protection was outstanding.
"(It was) probably as good as it's been in a long time, at least since I have been here."
TOUGH CALL: Gruden's feelings on the third-quarter illegal block penalty that negated a Derrick Brooks touchdown on an interception return hadn't changed even after watching it repeatedly on tape. He just wasn't willing to risk a fine to make his point.
"I was very disappointed in that call," Gruden said. "I was disappointed with several calls. But I'm not one of those guys to just give away money."
ETC: Long-snapper Dave Moore (broken ribs) has been ruled out of Sunday's game. ... Gruden said the two misses by kicker Matt Bryant were not the fault of new long-snapper Andrew Economos.