By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 30, 2001
TAMPA -- When Karl Williams suffered a right hip flexor injury in the second quarter of the game against the Bears on Nov. 18, he barely could move his leg.
He left the field on a cart, the stadium on crutches and was given a minimum of two to three weeks to get back on the field.
Williams was with his teammates Thursday running individual drills and catching passes.
"There's still some pain but I'm trying to keep blood pumping through that area," said Williams, who started the Bears game at wide receiver. "The best way to do that was move around.
"I am surprised. Considering when I got injured I couldn't move my right leg at all, to two days later getting off the crutches and then being able to walk normal that quickly. There is some discomfort, but I'm surprised that I'm out here on the field and going through some individuals."
Williams recovered from little mobility to about 80 percent quickly. He will have to go through today's practice unscathed to be in line to play Sunday. Coach Tony Dungy said there's a remote chance Williams will be on the field against the Bengals.
"Karl did some things, and hopefully he'll continue to develop," Dungy said. "If he doesn't have a setback, he'll be ready to go. We were kind of thinking the worst after the Chicago game, but we're hopeful he'll be able to go (Sunday)."
Williams said he will know more after today's final comprehensive practice.
"Any true player, even when they are 50 percent, says they can go out there and get the job done," said Williams, who also is the team's primary punt returner. "But with our team being in the position that it is in, I don't want to go out there and jeopardize not being able to help the team and hurting the team. If I can't run at 100 percent, I won't feel comfortable being out there knowing that I've got 10 other guys depending on me to get the job done."
TOUGH TAILBONE: Attempting to deflect or intercept a Kurt Warner pass late Monday night in St. Louis, safety John Lynch jumped as high as he could, lost control and came down hard on his tailbone. Lynch said the fall was extremely painful but will not affect his willingness to repeat the play.
"That's a hard surface," Dungy said of the artificial turf. "We were happy to see him get up. He had a leg injury early in the game that we were careful with, and that turned out to be okay. I think we did breathe a sign of relief (when he got up from the fall)."
THE CLOSER: The Yankees have Mariano Rivera. The Bucs have Lynch.
The Pro Bowl safety is Tampa Bay's closer, having finished games with interceptions at Dallas and St. Louis and defending the final pass in the end zone in a win against Green Bay.
Monday night was the second time Lynch finished off the Rams with an INT. He did it last season in a 38-35 Bucs win at Raymond James Stadium.
"It's nice to do it two years in a row against them to end the game," Lynch said. "You always like to be able to make a play at the end of the game to help your team win. It was a tremendous effort from the entire team and it was nice to be able to cap it."
NO TIME TO CELEBRATE: After playing Monday, the Bucs lost a day of recovery and practice time before Sunday's game. They were given the league mandated day off on Tuesday.
That, defensive end Simeon Rice said, is not necessarily a bad thing.
"I kind of like the shorter week personally because you're thrown right back into the situation that you left," Rice said. "Be thankful that not a lot of guys suffered injuries and we'll be well-prepared for this weekend. I look at it as we kind of have one up (on the Bengals) and we just took the pads off."
Another person not crying over the short week is defensive tackle Warren Sapp. The NFC defensive player of the week said worrying about it is not an option.
"We're 5-5 right now," Sapp said. "If you're not ready to go this Sunday, then stay right here. We'll leave you here. We've got to go."
HELPING HAND: The Glazer Family Foundation donated $25,000 to 19 bay area organizations as part of the Fall Grant 2001 program. Checks were presented to organization representatives during Thursday's practice. Among those receiving grants were the Meals on Wheels program ($2,500), the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center ($2,250), the Salesian Youth Center Boys and Girls Club ($1,895) and Central Florida Deaf Services ($1,625).
INJURY UPDATE: Receiver Reidel Anthony (right hip strain) and running back Aaron Stecker (left hamstring strain) sat out practice and are listed as questionable.
In addition to Williams, receiver Keyshawn Johnson (left ankle sprain) returned to practicealong with defensive tackle James Cannida, left tackle Kenyatta Walker and kicker Martin Gramatica, all of whom had the flu. Lynch and running back Warrick Dunn (right turf toe) practiced and are probable for Sunday.
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