Fearless Prediction: Bucs-Seahawks

Game Snapshot

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET

SURFACE: Artificial turf

TV: FOX (Ron Pitts, John Lynch, Nischelle Turner)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bucs are scaling back the offense to

help struggling rookie QB Josh Freeman, who has thrown eight

interceptions the past two games. They also want to put more of the

offensive workload on the ground game, and coach Raheem Morris

called out the offensive line as an area that needs to improve.

Seahawks coach Jim Mora has been far blunter in the assessment of

his own offensive line. With QB Matt Hasselbeck often taking hits

even on three-step drops, Seattle will try to work significantly

against a Bucs defense that gave up 175 rushing yards last Sunday.

FAST FACTS: Tampa Bay has lost 16 of its past 17 games. …

Hasselbeck is 3-0 in his career against the Bucs.

Personnel News

Bucs:

  • WR Michael Clayton (knee) did not practice Thursday and is

    not expected to play against the Seahawks. But Clayton hasn’t

    officially been ruled out.

     

  • RB Cadillac Williams (back) returned to practice and had full

    participation.

     

  • TE John Gilmore (head) did not participate in practice

    Thursday and is not expected to play against Seattle.

     

  • DT Roy Miller (ankle) had full participation in practice

    Thursday.

     

  • WR Sammie Stroughter, who did not play last week with a back

    injury, had full participation in practice Thursday.

     

Seahawks:

  • QB Matt Hasselbeck told reporters on Thursday that his sore

    right shoulder feels fine and he’ll be ready to play on Sunday.

     

  • LB Aaron Curry (hip) was a full participant in practice on

    Thursday and could play on Sunday against Tampa Bay.

     

  • WR Nate Burleson (ankle) is out for this week but is a

    possibility to return to the field before the season ends.

     

  • LB D.D. Lewis (knee) was a full participant in practice and

    should be available for Sunday.

     

Inside The Camps

Bucs:

Josh Freeman said he has to demand more of his teammates,

which is tough to do as a rookie quarterback.

“As a rookie, you kind of don’t want to rub anybody the

wrong way,” Freeman said. “But yeah, I definitely think for me to

improve and maybe take that next step, I have to be more demanding

on the practice field, more of a vocal leader on this team.”

Freeman, 21, is trying to rebound after throwing eight

interceptions in the last two games. He said he was ‘confused,’ by

the blitz-happy New York Jets’ defense but that throwing a pick on

the game’s first play did not affect his confidence.

“I wouldn’t say it crushed my confidence,” Freeman said.

“It’s really the whole day, that defense had me confused. There’s

not a whole lot more to it. I mean, that first pick, obviously, I

was disappointed in myself. The captains trusted me with the ball

and I threw a pick on the first play. But yeah, the defense did a

good job of confusing me, whether it be what pressure they were

going to bring, what protections. I’ve got to do a better job of

learning and figuring that out.”

Bucs coach Raheem Morris said Monday that the Bucs need to

scale back the offense to take the pressure off Freeman.

“We’ve got a lot of different weapons. I think the game last

week is kind of the exception because it was a really good

defense,” Freeman said. “You can’t look at last week’s game and

just be like, ‘Man, we can’t throw it, we can’t run it, we’ve got

to just reevaluate everything we’re doing.’ We’ve got to get back

to the basics of what we’re being successful with and that is

running the ball, maybe it be the zone run or the power and the

play-action game or the quick game. There’s a number of things

we’ve shown we can do successfully. We’ve just got to get into a

groove and a rhythm and go do that week in and week out.”

Seahawks:

An offensive-line coach in the National Football League for

over 30 seasons, Mike Solari is experiencing a rough patch in his

second year serving in the same position for the Seattle Seahawks.

His team’s head coach, Jim Mora, basically blamed Seattle’s

failings on offense on the struggles and the lack of cohesion of

the offensive line.

Mora questioned the toughness of the guys up front, saying

he needed more players who brought with them a “dirt-bag” mentality

on the field.

“You’re either tough or you’re not,” Solari said about the

toughness question. “It’s not something that you develop. It’s

something that you work on in training camp. You hit, you pound and

so forth, and it’s something you build on. Again, these guys are

competing and working hard, we just have not been effective.

“We’ve got to do better as an offensive line, and I’ve got

to do better as a coach.”

Seattle has had its share of injuries up front, with the

projected starting line missing a combined 23 games so far this

season.

Offensive guard Rob Sims, who missed two games with an ankle

sprain, said the fact that he and other linemen have not been

credited with playing through injuries is an issue.

“Everybody at this time, their bodies are beat up,” Sims

said. “I’m not sure. I don’t see how much you can get tougher.

Spence (Chris Spencer) has a broken thumb and is snapping with his

left hand and has a messed-up elbow that is probably my fault.

“I’m going to have to ask Coach Mora exactly what he means

by toughness. But I know my guys up in that (offensive-line) room,

we play with pain, we don’t get much credit for what we do, and the

stuff we do bad we get ridiculed for.”

However, the Seahawks have started the same five players up

front for the last five games, but they’ve been woefully inadequate

in protecting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

In order to rectify the situation, Seattle has had Spencer,

who has struggled snapping the ball with his left hand while

playing with a broken right thumb, switch positions with right

guard Max Unger.

Unger, a rookie, has started 13 games at right guard this

season. But he was drafted as a potential future starting center,

with Spencer becoming a free agent at season’s end.

“Chris has done a commendable job going from a right-handed

snapper to a left, and it’s really a difficult thing to do,” Solari

said. “Your steps and angles change dramatically. He made that

change going into the Arizona (Nov. 15) game, and it’s just

something where we’re not getting consistent snaps, so it’s

something we’ve got to do.”

PREDICTION: Seahawks 24-13