Michael Pittman – Doubtful
BJ Askew – Questionable
Greg Spires – Questionable
Joey Galloway – Questionable
Ahman Green – Out
Matt Schaub – Out
Danny Clark – Questionable
Mark Breuner – Probable
Texans DE Mario Williams vs. Buccaneers OT Donald Penn. Since taking the place of injured veteran Luke Petitgout, Penn has quietly done an outstanding job for the Bucs. Tampa Bay has given up only 22 sacks this year (fewer than two per game) and it ranks fifth in the NFL in yards per carry, despite being without its top two rushers for most of the season. Penn’s strong play has a lot to do with those achievements. In Williams, he faces the first overall pick from the 2006 NFL Draft. After a rookie season in which he received a fair deal of criticism for not matching the highlight-reel plays made by the second and third picks of that draft, Reggie Bush and Vince Young, he is now the one producing at the highest level. Williams ranks 15th in the NFL with eight sacks and has made his own share of eye-catching plays this season. If he can dominate Penn and add some more highlights to his portfolio, the Bucs’ offense could be in trouble (NFL.COM).
Pregame Quick Hits
- We can clinch the division with a win today.
- As of 10 am this morning, still no answer to wether Jeff Garcia is starting or not, game time decision
- I bet the Bay Area has a lot more confidence if Jeff can not go today after Luke’s performance last week
- Ernest Graham has a chance to get to 1000 yards and 10 TD’s next week. Not bad for a guy who has played special teams the last 3 years.
- We are allowing a paltry 15.6 points per game
- Does this season remind anyone of the Super Bowl year?
- Why does Gruden not have an extension?
- 22 sacks allowed for us to this point in the season is amazing considering last years debacle along the line. The progression of Davin Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood, Rookie Aaron Sears, and the unkown commodity, Donald Penn has been fun to watch.
- Michael Clayton has 6 catches on the season….guy had 80 catches for 1200 yards and 7 td’s his rookie year…just amazing really
- Both Barret Ruud and Derrick Brooks will crack 100 tackles for the season today (they are both at 94)
- Gaines Adams continues to improve and had an impressive sack and 4 tackles last week against the Saints
- Our leading sack man is last years Defensive Player of the Year in Arena Football, Greg White
LB Derrick Brooks on being one win away from an NFC South title:
“We’re going to continue to be single-minded. That’s not going to change. I think that’s been our strength, to be where we’re at. We take our goals daily, achieve them, then move on to the next day. I think by having that mentality, the team’s now starting to understand how important that is. It doesn’t change, now going into the fourth quarter [of the season]. All those things remain the same. We’ll accomplish it when we accomplish it, but it’s not going to change anything that we do on a daily basis. We’ve got a division title we’re playing for, whatever seed we’re at, that’s not going to matter.”
QB Jeff Garcia on the team only needing one or win or some help to get a playoff berth:
“I don’t think this team will exhale. I think there is a great focus on wanting to win that championship ourselves, wanting to take this division ourselves, not wanting to rely on anybody else to fail and have it handed to us. I think we want to continue to be rolling the way we’ve been rolling. We want to continue to fight and battle every single week. Houston plays good football at home, especially, and they are a team that is in a tough division and they may not be looking forward to the things that we could potentially looking forward to. But they are going to come in hungry looking for a win and have to be prepared for that and realize that and give it our best shot. We want to go out and just continue to grow as a team, we’re not so concerned much about who we’re facing but concerned about how we approach each and every week and I think if we continue to do what we’ve been doing over the past few weeks, we will be prepared and give our best effort.”
Graham on the feeling of playing meaningful games in December:
“It is a great feeling, because we have done the opposite. Last year was not a year we were proud of. This year every game is a huge game, and we get closer to what our goal is, and that is to be the best team at the end of the year. Right now it feels great. There is a lot of meaning behind all these games, and we are preparing as such. It is a great feeling this time of the year, in December, to be playing meaningful football.”
Garcia on when he got the feeling that this is a playoff team:
“I think when you looked at our schedule going into the season and you looked at our first five games, we looked at the difficulty of those first five and to come out of those games 3-2 at the time, I felt like we were putting ourselves in a real good position to be a playoff team. I thought in the offseason by the work ethic of this team, the mentality, the players we have here, but we just never know how it’s all going to come together until you’re actually out on the field trying to make it work. I really believe when we got through that first stretch that we were in a real good position to compete with any team in this league and really have a great chance of winning a lot of our games from that point on. To look at where we were at the start of the season, I think we got out of those first five in a real positive situation and it created an energy, an excitement, an attitude, and an atmosphere around here where the belief of being able to win was starting to grow on everybody.”
Brooks on the unity of the team and Jon Gruden having everyone moving in one direction:
“I think from a coaching standpoint, he really does lean on the veterans. He’ll make no bones about it. He’ll tell you guys that he expects us to do that. But at the same time, the message he’s getting across that everybody is buying into is a lot of consistency across the board. There’s a good pulse right now. He knows when to push the pedal and when to take it off. I think he’s gotten better at that. Going through last year and really seeing the type of team that he had then and the type of team he has now, and knowing when and when not to, I actually think coach has gotten better at that too.”
White on the confidence this team has right now:
“The more we’re together, the more we’re winning. We practice together, we hang out together out of football, so it’s a good chemistry.”
Joseph on if the offensive line has played at this high level all season:
“I think we’re getting better each game. We still have a lot to improve on, that’s exciting for us and it’s really keeping us motivated.”
Brooks on Gruden challenging him and Ronde Barber in the offseason:
“Well, it was different because we were coming off the worst record of our careers. It was a little more personal. You’re feeling horrible because of the worst record in your career, and now the head coach is banging on you to challenge you to really, what are you going to do? That was the worst season of your career. Everybody is on the hot seat. Nobody is safe, period. What are you going to do? How are you going to handle it? As a man, first of all, and as a leader of this football team. What are we going to do? Ronde and I [just said], “Coach, we’re going to fight.” But I can’t talk about it – I’ll show you. And that’s where I think my leadership started. I’ll show you. Pay attention. Don’t get lost on my journey. And that’s kind of how it’s been. I think about every situation that’s been happening, it’s been a situation where you’re showing your leadership and putting the team first. You’re really pissed off about the team being 4-12, well here’s a chance to show that the team is much more important. It may not be something as simple as playing time. It may be something else where you’ve got to sacrifice your time for someone else. Again, that’s the sign of a good football team.”