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Bucs could face another backup quarterback against Eagles

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Sam Bradford? Or Mark Sanchez?

To Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, it doesn’t much matter.

The Eagles (4-5) face a decision for Sunday’s game based upon Bradford’s health. But even if Sanchez, the backup, plays against the Bucs, Kelly said he is fine with it.

“It just depends on Sam’s health,” Kelly said. “Yesterday was our first day out on the field. We have another training session today. So we have four more training sessions before we have to make any decisions in terms of where he is. He’s working really hard at his rehab and we’re excited about a chance to get him back.”

Kelly said his confidence level in Sanchez is good.

“Extremely high,” Kelly said. “Mark’s played a lot of really good football for us here, and really it won’t change anything we do if Mark’s our quarterback. If Mark has to go and Sam can’t go, we’re excited about the opportunity.”

Over the last two years, the Bucs have had trouble with backup quarterbacks as well as starters. Derek Anderson of Carolina beat them twice last year. Ryan Mallet of Houston won this year.

The Bucs did beat Dallas’ Matt Cassel on Sunday.

“I was trying to think back on those backup quarterbacks,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. “I can remember some of those back-up quarterbacks. We’ve played a lot of regular quarterbacks. It doesn’t change much that we’re doing. You have to prepare for the quarterback position.

“If an offense has a certain philosophy and then is going to change completely, then it’s a big deal. When they’re running the same plays, I don’t think they are going to be much different with Sanchez as opposed to Bradford. That’s what we’re doing. We’re practicing the same plays that we believe they believe they should win with.”

“If the Bucs win, it figures to be a close one. The Eagles have lost three close games this season.

“I think you can look at the three of them – we lost a game by one, a game by 2 and a game by 3,” Kelly said. “It comes back to self-inflicted wounds. The penalty situation hurt us. In both games we’ve had a touchdown called back because of a formation not being aligned the proper way. There’s the difference – you score a touchdown or come away with no points, there’s the difference in the ball game. So I think just some of the penalty things and some of the detail part of it has to be cleaned up on our part.”

The Bucs will have to run the ball better than they have for the past two weeks to have a chance.

“We have not run it as well the last two weeks as we had,” Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “In fact, that is one of the things we are addressing starting this morning. We have some clips we are going to show them after practice today when we watch the film.

“It’s not that our running backs are running any differently. Again, these teams just don’t sit there in one defense. They’re changing their looks, they’re changing their pressures. They get paid too, they get coached too. We have not been quite as sharp. [We’ve] been very physical. [It’s] not a question at all of effort or physicality, we just have to iron out a few details. Like most plays, if we are all on the same page then we have a lot better chance to be successful.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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