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Quarles banged up but expects to play

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 17, 2000


TAMPA -- Starting outside linebacker Shelton Quarles, who plays middle linebacker when the Bucs are in their nickel defense, missed his second consecutive practice Monday.

Quarles injured his groin in the final moments of practice Thursday. But the team doesn't appear too concerned because Quarles is expected back today.

"(Trainer) Todd (Toriscelli) just felt if we rest him, he probably would have a better shot at playing," coach Tony Dungy said. "He wanted to practice but we think he'll be able to go tomorrow."

Quarles' injury comes two weeks after middle linebacker Jamie Duncan sustained a concussion against the Redskins. Rookie Nate Webster filled in for Duncan and did a solid job.

If Quarles can't play or is slowed, the Bucs likely would hand over the duties to fourth-year pro Al Singleton and use Webster in some situations.

"Al will play all the time in that spot and on third down; it'll be either Jamie or Nate who would play in the middle," Dungy said. "We have enough people to do it, but we just wouldn't have our usual rotation."

SPEAKING OF DUNCAN: He missed the Vikings game Oct. 8 while recovering from a concussion, but Duncan is expected back in his usual spot Thursday night. Duncan, who participated in full practice the past two days, said he is fully recovered from the head-banging incident and can't wait to get into action.

"Everybody is eager to get back in there and do whatever it takes to get this thing turned around," Duncan said. "Each person has to take it upon their shoulders and take on their responsibility and do whatever it takes to help the team win. Whatever you're asked to do, do your job and do it well."

NO KIDDING: Lauren Gardiner, the 10-year-old New Port Richey resident whose pygmy goats were killed by two pit bulls Oct. 9, attended practice Monday as a special guest of kicker Martin Gramatica.

Gardiner, who named her goats Gramatica and Shaun King, has become somewhat of a celebrity after two of her three goats were killed. The third, Keyshawn Johnson, survived the attack.

Gardiner's father, Vince, shot one of the dogs with a bow and arrow and a friend killed the other with a handgun.

"I hit him with a shovel and it didn't do a thing," Vince Gardiner said. "I had no choice."

The Gardiner's visited with Gramatica after practice and Lauren received a number of autographs from the players.

Vince Gardiner said the situation could have been worse because Lauren and her 3-year-old brother usually go to the animal pen after school. He said the owners of the pit bulls have yet to contact the Gardiners.

MOTOWN SHUFFLE: With Lions receiver Germane Crowell likely out for at least six weeks with a fractured foot, the Bucs have turned their attention to former starter Herman Moore.

"(Germane's) the vertical guy for them and has been able to make big plays, as against us and Green Bay," defensive backs coach Herman Edwards said. "That hurts them a little bit. But Herman is still a pretty good receiver. He's more now a possession guy who can jump over guys and catch the ball, and he'll enjoy starting again because he'll get more balls and he likely will be fired up about it."

It likely won't be just Moore. Veteran Brian Stablein and former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard also could see increased time.

"Now, the ball is going to be spread around a little bit more between Herman, Johnnie (Morton) and Brian," Edwards said. "Maybe now Desmond will become a factor. You never know what they could do. They could use him as the speed guy."

THE TRUTH IS: Receiver/punt returner Karl "The Truth" Williams, sidelined since the Washington game with a left knee strain, said his knee is progressing nicely but still is a week away. He said he hopes to be ready for the game against the Vikings on Oct. 29.

"It's getting better, but it's still a little sore," Williams said. "I haven't tried to run on it yet, but I have been able to walk around and do some exercises. It's better every day but still hard to say (when) I'll be 100 percent. We'll have to wait and see."

Williams, who started the season as the Bucs' primary punt returner, said missing the Monday night game was one thing; having to watch it on television from home was worse.

"That was the first game I sat at home and watched since I've been here," Williams said. "It was strange not being able to do anything and seeing your teammates fight and struggle. I couldn't watch the whole thing. I found myself flipping back and forth. It's not something I want to do again."

WHAT TIME IS IT: We have heard of stars missing meetings and arriving late, but one excuse that won't hold water is: "Coach, I didn't realize the time."

When the team returned to practice Sunday, one of the new features in the locker room was a rectangular digital clock, about 3 feet long and 18 inches wide, with large bright red numbering. It replaced a standard face clock with two hands.

"I want to say we're heading into the digital age," safety Damien Robinson said jokingly. "But now, there's no question about what time it is. You can't miss that one. You can't miss it at all."

Dungy said with a smile: "It's something we've been trying to get for a while. ... There's no significance to it being here today. We've been trying to get it in for a long time."

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