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A look at the Bucs

Wow, this is a quick week. It's already past time to start talking about the Bucs, so let's start with their injuries.

The Bucs played the first two games of the stretch without three defensive starters - middle linebacker Shelton Quarles, defensive end Simeon Rice and defensive tackle Ellis Wyms - and there's no guarantee any of the three will be back on the field for Thursday's game. In fact, Rice has been downgraded to doubtful for this game after spending the last two weeks in the questionable column, so it appears unlikely the Bucs' active sack leader will be on the field in Dallas. Quarles (knee) and Wyms (ankle) are also still questionable.


The Bucs' list grew on Sunday when tight end Alex Smith and cornerback Juran Bolden suffered leg injuries against the Redskins. Smith incurred an ankle sprain in the first half and Bolden took a hard shot to the shin in the second half; both left the game and both are questionable for the Dallas contest.

On Monday, Bolden expressed some hope that he would be sufficiently recovered by Thursday to play against the Cowboys, though he had also been questionable for the past two games with a nagging hip injury. Gruden said it was too early to make that call on Tuesday.

It turns out that Simeon Rice definitely won't play, because they just put him on IR for the season.

After five straight sack-happy seasons as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' right defensive end, Simeon Rice has finally encountered an obstacle he couldn't run.

On Wednesday, the Buccaneers placed Rice on injured reserve, ending the veteran defender's attempt to play through a debilitating shoulder injury.

As for CB Juran Bolden, the jury is still out on whether he'll play, but with him or without him the Bucs secondary against TNT is a mismatch.

Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn have a combined 22 seasons of NFL experience, nearly 20,000 combined career yards and hours of highlight tape apiece.

And whom, exactly, do the Bucs plan to match against those Cowboys receivers in Thursday's Thanksgiving matchup at Texas Stadium? At times, journeyman Torrie Cox and a player some consider a first-round bust, Phillip Buchanon.

Once you get past Ronde Barber, the Bucs secondary can be had by playmakers Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn.

The Bucs have been watching Tony Romo. Coach Gruden thinks he's a playmaker.

"I liked what he did in the preseason last year," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "I thought he lit it up. I said, 'Man, who is this guy?' I think he's been on everybody's radar since that preseason a year ago. That's why you were hearing all those rumors about him becoming the starter at some point.

"I'll tell you, he's got that play-making fever right now."

More on Romo.

Not only can he become just the second quarterback in Cowboys history to throw for 220 or more yards in each of his first four starts, he's directing the league's third-ranked scoring offense and sixth-ranked total offense.

What's more, Dallas is first in the NFC, and third in the league, with 216 first downs, and at their current pace, they will finish the 2006 season with 346 first downs, the second most in team history.

It doesn't stop there. Through 10 games, Dallas boasts the NFC's most effective red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 23 of 38 trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line and field goals on nine more trips.

Bucs LB Derrick Brooks gives us his mini-scouting report on the Cowboys.

"I had the chance to watch the second half [of Dallas' game] against Indianapolis," said Brooks, who proceeded to give a general scouting report of the Bucs' next opponent.

"They run the ball real well," he said. "Their two backs, Marion Barber and Julius Jones, they get downhill real quick and they do a good job of breaking tackles, so we're just going to have to tackle well.

"And that big old line of theirs, they've always had that big offensive line. So we're going to have to use our speed and quickness and beat them to the punch."

Why this happened on today, I don't know. But the ageless wonder Aaron Glenn had dueling articles in the DFW S-T and the DMN. Go check them out, they both are about how he stays relevant at a young man's position, CB. Also, he says he wants to play until he's 40 like Darrell Green.

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