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Inclusion elusive for injured OL Joseph
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published September 26, 2006
TAMPA - First-round draft choice Davin Joseph has felt forgotten in recent weeks, since sustaining a knee injury that has sidelined him since four days before the season opener. Keeping things in perspective has been difficult at times, but the starting right guard hasn't given up on living up to the lofty standards he set for himself.
"(It's been) a little lonely," said Joseph, who until Monday had not been made available to the media since his injury. "Of course, I had high expectations for myself. It's been hard watching, not being with the guys and not being able to play. But I'm keeping a positive outlook. It could have been worse. It was pretty minimal given the situation. Now, I'm just looking forward to coming back as soon as possible and, hopefully, making an impact and adding a spark for the team."
When that will actually happen is another matter.
Coach Jon Gruden has maintained Joseph might return after this weekend's open date, with the next game Oct. 8 at New Orleans. Joseph says things are too uncertain to project a return date.
"It's day to day," said Joseph, who said he did not have to have surgery on the injury. "It's a process. We can be as positive as we want to be, but if it's not ready after the bye week, then it's just not ready. It's one of those things where you just have to wait. Hopefully everything will turn out the right way. But we have to be prepared to go, who knows, six (total) weeks, seven weeks, eight weeks. I don't know."
The injury, which occurred in practice, provided some scary moments for Joseph, who said, "Somebody falls on you and before you know it, you're thinking your whole career is done. It turned out it was a little bit more positive than that. It wasn't as bad as it could have been."
Joseph said he has clearance to do most anything in the weight room and can run to some degree.
"But then you worry about pushing off, bracing, things of that (nature)," he said. "That's what I can't measure, so that's why I can't say how long it will be before I come back.
"With the bye week, I'll use this week as another week to rest up, do more therapy, do more strengthening. It's hard to tell because I can't really go out there and hit somebody right now. So, it's better to be safe than sorry."
TOO MANY MISSES: One of the most disconcerting issues facing the defense is that missed tackles are slowly becoming a trend.
Many short passes and runs that should have been stuffed Sunday against Carolina became huge gains for the Panthers, and the Bucs are at a loss when trying to determine why a veteran defense is struggling in this regard.
"We have to tackle better," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "The name of the game is to tackle the guys with the football. And we've always been noted for good tackling. We're hustling, but we have to make the tackles."
Said Gruden: "They made a lot of yards after breaking tackles or avoiding tacklers. It hurt us. They were able to get out of some really difficult holes. We pinned them back in field position a couple of times and they were able to get out from their 10-yard line, get out from their 18-yard line and get out from their 20-yard line. It changes the game and it changes field position. Missing tackles was a big part of that."
NO REGRETS: Gruden defended his decision to call a deep pass to Joey Galloway on a late third-and-5 play. The pass from Chris Simms landed incomplete and stopped the clock, rather than forcing the Panthers to use their final timeout.
"We felt we had the right play called," Gruden said. "Galloway got press coverage. We felt we could run by them, honestly. ... We are going to give our offense a chance to make a first down."
ETC: In other injury news, starting strongside linebacker Ryan Nece is targeting the New Orleans game to return from his knee injury. Long-snapper Dave Moore (cracked ribs) has a chance to return against the Saints, too.