JENKINS SUFFERS BROKEN LEG
LG Kerry Jenkins' first season with the Bucs likely came to an abrupt end Monday night. Jenkins suffered a broken left leg near the end of the second quarter. The fifth-year veteran cracked his left fibula during the Bucs' go-ahead scoring drive. He was replaced by fifth-year backup C/G Todd Washington. With Jenkins possibly out for the season and the Bucs already short in the guard position, Tampa Bay might be shopping for a replacement this week. The Bucs released G Russ Hochstein last week to make room for TE Rickey Dudley, the fourth tight end on the roster. Hochstein was a fifth-round draft pick last season. Tampa Bay brought in Jenkins, a free-agent signee from the New York Jets, to replace Randall McDaniel, who retired. Jenkins also had a familiarity with offensive line coach Bill Muir's system.
TIGHTENING THEIR BELTS
Coach Jon Gruden wanted to see more from the tight ends. Newly signed Dudley, Ken Dilger and Todd Yoder responded to his challenge. Marco Battaglia, one of eight inactive players, could only watch from the bench. Dilger was involved heavily in the first quarter, catching three receptions in the Bucs' opening scoring drive. Yoder also contributed with a big special-teams tackle in the first quarter and a key first-down reception in the second quarter. Yoder's 16-yard reception with 2 minutes remaining in the first half kept the Bucs' go-ahead scoring drive alive. Dudley proved to be a quick study. Only six days after the Bucs signed him, he dressed and played a prominent role in the offense. Gruden said he wasn't playing mind games when he added Dudley to the roster. ``We want to play as good as we can play and to do that you have to find the best players that are available,'' Gruden said earlier this week. ``And [Rickey] has some qualities, that if he's right, I think he can still play.'' Gruden's instincts proved to be correct. Dudley scored the go- ahead touchdown, his first as a Buccaneer, with a little more than 1 minute remaining in the second quarter. Dudley's 9-yard reception from QB Brad Johnson gave the Bucs a 13-7 halftime lead.
Former Bucs starting MLB Jamie Duncan was demoted Monday, partly because of an injury and partly because of his ineffectiveness. Duncan was replaced by another former Buc, Don Davis. It was the third time in three games the Rams changed starters at linebacker. Duncan's production has been limited in the first two games because of two dislocated fingers. ``He can play better,'' Coach Mike Martz said. ``He's playing with a hurt hand. Basically, he's played with one arm. We're trying to help him with that hand situation with a cast, and give him an opportunity where he can be Jamie. I think as the hand feels better for him, he'll deal with it better.''
RB Aaron Stecker was shaken up during a kickoff return near the end of the first half. He returned in the second half. RT Kenyatta Walker suffered a sprained left ankle and WLB Derrick Brooks suffered a strained left hamstring in the fourth quarter. Rams RB Marshall Faulk was shaken up in the second quarter. Faulk landed awkwardly on his neck after a collision with Brooks. Faulk left the game with a neck strain.
Johnson set a team record with his 153rd consecutive pass without an interception. The mark was set with Johnson's sixth pass during the opening drive. He broke Trent Dilfer's record of 152 consecutive passes without a pick.
Rams QB Kurt Warner completed his 1,000th pass early in the first quarter. During St. Louis' first series, Warner completed a 16-yard pass to WR Torry Holt to reach the mark. Of all the quarterbacks who have reached that mark, Warner did so in the the fewest attempts.
During the game, the video screen showed various Bucs players responding to the question: Which two celebrities would you like to see in a celebrity death-match. DT Warren Sapp responded: ``Me and Key,'' jokingly referring to the reported feud between the All-Pro and WR Keyshawn Johnson.
The Rams didn't show the hometown crowd any respect when they ran onto the field for introductions. Rams players huddled at midfield and jumped up and down on the Bucs logo.