The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued to prepare for Saturday's NFC semifinal assuming ailing Washington Redskins running back Stephen Davis will have recovered sufficiently from a sprained ankle and sprained knee to be in the lineup.
"Everyone has great depth and we'll still have our work cut out for us regardless of whether he's playing or not," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "But we expect to see him."
Tampa Bay, with four starting defenders heading to the Pro Bowl, was the NFC's toughest team against the run this season. This week, Buccaneers players have compared the Redskins' high-powered offense to that of NFC Central rival Minnesota, although Davis would be the most talented back they've faced.
"I expect to see him out there," defensive tackle Brad Culpepper said. "He was supposed to be banged up last week, then ran for more than 100 yards. We're assuming he'll be at the top of his game."
Dilfer Remains Out
Quarterback Trent Dilfer's career with the Buccaneers could be over. Dilfer, who had been making a faster-than-expected recovery from a broken clavicle he suffered at Seattle Nov. 28, will require at least another week of rehabilitation before doctors will consider clearing him to participate in contact drills.
Dilfer had not experienced any pain throwing during the last week and was considered a possibility to be named the No. 2 quarterback for Saturday's game. Instead, Eric Zeier will be the backup to rookie Shaun King, with former Maryland starter Scott Milanovich the inactive third quarterback.
Dilfer, the Bucs' first-round pick in 1994 who was named to the Pro Bowl following the 1997 season, has struggled since and has been booed regularly at Raymond James Stadium. The team must decide after the season whether to pick up the option on the final two years of his contract.
That seems increasingly unlikely given the emergence of King, who has led the Buccaneers to a 4-1 record since taking over in November. King will be the first rookie quarterback to start a playoff game since Todd Marinovich for the Raiders in 1991. The last rookie quarterback to lead his team to a playoff win was the Rams' Pat Haden in 1976.
Anybody Got Tickets?
It took only 30 minutes this morning for Ticketmaster outlets to sell the approximately 8,000 tickets that remained for Saturday's game.
The Buccaneers, who have sold out every home game since moving into Raymond James Stadium before the 1998 season, also were doing a brisk business selling season-ticket packages. Fans purchasing season tickets for 2000 were guaranteed the right to buy playoff tickets for Saturday and for a potential NFC championship game.
But like other season-ticket holders, they also had to purchase a personal seat deposit. Each deposit is equivalent to the price of a season ticket.