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Davis prepared for a bigger role


© St. Petersburg Times, published December 27, 2000

TAMPA -- With Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks' status in question for Sunday, backup Don Davis could see extended playing time again against the Eagles in the wild-card game.

Davis has been used primarily on special teams during his five seasons in the league, the past two with Tampa Bay. He was thrust into a primary role in the regular-season finale Sunday against Green Bay when Brooks sprained his right shoulder in the second quarter.

Davis recorded six tackles while sharing time with reserve linebacker Jeff Gooch, who had three tackles.

Tuesday, coach Tony Dungy said he wasn't sure if Brooks would be able to play Sunday, even though Brooks was adamant after the Packers game that he would. Dungy said Davis could start if Brooks can't play.

"We'll have to see depending on how (reserve linebacker) Al Singleton comes back (from a sprained knee)," Dungy said. "But right now Don is backing up Derrick, and Jeff is backing up Shelton (Quarles). So right now that's how we would go."

Davis is eager for a chance to play a lot against Philadelphia.

"You definitely go into this game with a little bit more (enthusiasm)," Davis said. "You always give what you got, but it's a little bit different when you know you definitely have a chance to play a lot.

"Think about it. Brooks doesn't ever get hurt. He hasn't gotten hurt in four or five years, so I think psychologically for myself, it might be a little bit more focused on preparation and getting ready for the details against Philly. If Brooks is able to go, great. But if he doesn't, I'll be there, and I'll be ready again."

DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES: The Bucs were successful using the no-huddle offense early in the fourth quarter against the Packers. When asked about employing the hurry-up strategy earlier if the Bucs fall behind the Eagles early, Dungy said he wouldn't rule it out.

"We'd like not to get behind 14-0, but if we do, especially in a playoff game, you've got to do whatever it takes to win the game," he said. "So if that means going to a hurry-up sooner in the game, if you think that's going to do it, you have to."

A CALL FROM A KING: Most of the time, offensive coordinator Les Steckel is running the offensive show. But quarterback Shaun King has been known to call a play or two during games, a practice Dungy embraces.

"(King) has a better command of (the offense), and we're comfortable allowing him to do some things," Dungy said. "He's going to get much better at that as we go on with this. That's one of the things you get when you're in a system longer, you get more familiarity with it, and we expect him to get better and better at that."

CAN WE DO THAT ONE OVER?: Dungy said the team's brain trust considered trying to get kicker Martin Gramatica closer for his late-game field-goal attempt against Green Bay.

On second and 11 from the Packers 20 with 20 seconds left, the Bucs chose to have King take a knee. Gramatica was left with a 40-yard attempt, which was wide right.

"We talked about it, and we thought about getting closer, but then we felt we were close enough," Dungy said. "You always would like to get closer; you'd like to score. But we just felt with the conditions, if you run the ball and fumble it, you're second-guessing yourself."

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