By ROGER MILLS and DARRELL FRY
© St. Petersburg Times,
published December 7, 2001
TAMPA -- Veteran tight end Dave Moore hasn't missed a start in four seasons, and it doesn't look like the hip pointer sustained Sunday in Cincinnati will break that streak.
After sitting out Wednesday's workouts, Moore returned to practice Thursday, participated in all drills and likely will start Sunday against the Lions.
"The hip is better," Moore said. "I had some swelling in there and the range of motion was real bad and it was painful. So, I had to get the swelling down. It's sore but I'll be fine."
In his 10th season, his ninth with the Bucs, Moore has been a steady presence in the offensive game plan over the past few games and has 12 catches in his past three games.
Moore squashed the rumor that he suffered a concussion on a hard hit in the third quarter.
"No concussion," he said. "It was a glancing blow that looked a lot worse than it really was. On film it looked bad too, but he caught the edge, more on the shoulder pad."
THE TRUTH IS BACK: Receiver/returner Karl Williams (back spasms) expects to have his full responsibilities by Sunday. He was limited to punt returns last weekend against the Bengals.
"(Wednesday) I started getting (spasms) pretty bad and (Thursday) they weren't as bad and I was able to finish off practice," Williams said. "I don't understand how it happened. I got hit in my lower back against Minnesota and then again a few weeks later against Pittsburgh. It's stiff right now.
"I plan on doing all my normal duties but I could tell going through practice that I wasn't myself. I caught myself playing gingerly during practice but I'm glad it happened now so I can get all of that behind me by the time the game comes around."
PRAISE FROM THE BOOTH: As the Bucs continue to win, CBS broadcaster Phil Simms falls more and more in love with them.
"What gives Tampa Bay a chance is the veteran quarterback (Brad Johnson) and a receiver (Keyshawn Johnson) who can make plays, and they have the potential to pressure the quarterback in big situations, which is one of the highest ingredients you need to win football games. And they have defensive backs who can make plays," Simms said. "They have a pretty good core of people in the right positions to give themselves a chance to make a run.
"I'll tell you what. If the Bucs go 10-6, then I would not be a team that would want to see them in the first round of the playoffs, because that means they had to win six of their last seven.
"That's a team that has kind of figured it out. They would have figured out how they want to play and what's working for them, so they would be misery to somebody in Round 1 of the playoffs."
Simms also said fans and media don't realize what a great season Keyshawn Johnson is having. Besides leading the league in receptions, he is on pace to challenge the single-season record of 123 by Detroit's Herman Moore, but Simms said critics harp too much on his lack of touchdowns.
"I don't care that he hasn't caught a touchdown pass," Simms said. "All the things he is doing are giving the team a chance and creating (favorable) situations that people can't understand and don't appreciate, and they never will.
"I mean, think about what he's doing for the defense. See, you can't measure those things in football. In baseball, they measure everything. And if Keyshawn were a baseball player, he'd be batting about .365 right now with about 49 to 50 home runs and 120 RBIs and everybody would say, "He's having a really, really good year, but not great,' because he didn't break the home run record or something like that."
SPECIAL FOOT, SPECIAL BOOT: Considering that he Keyshawn Johnson has an NFL-best 83 receptions, there are no questions about his hands. But what about his sprained left foot?
Johnson sat out his second day of practice and may need a special boot Sunday.
"He's going to be okay," coach Tony Dungy said. "He ran yesterday and did pretty well but just aggravated it a bit. So, we're trying to get a shoe he can wear without aggravating his foot."
BIG TIMES FOR BIG DADDY: This could be a special season for defensive tackle Warren Sapp. A product of Apopka High outside Orlando, Sapp is delighted about his school's run for a state championship.
Apopka (13-1) plays for the Class 6A title against Miami Northwestern (13-1) on Saturday night in Tallahassee.
Sapp also attended Miami and is equally proud of the Hurricanes' 11-0 record and their berth in the national title game in the Rose Bowl.
"I've got a chance to win a state title, a national title and a Super Bowl title, all in the same year?" Sapp said, joking. "If that happened, you don't want to be around me."
INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Jeff Gooch (right hamstring) is questionable. Running back Warrick Dunn (right toe), defensive end Steve White (right shoulder), right tackle Jerry Wunsch (left calf strain), receiver Milton Wynn (right rib strain), Sapp (right hamstring), cornerback Dwight Smith (virus) and guard Todd Washington (left knee sprain) are probable.
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