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Buccaneers express interest in Moore

  • Article by: Judd Zulgad
  • Star Tribune
  • October 3, 2007 - 12:04 AM

Tampa Bay's search to replace injured running back Carnell (Cadillac) Williams included a call to the Vikings. The Buccaneers inquired about running back Mewelde Moore but, according to people with knowledge of the situation, the Vikings asked for a first-day draft pick in return. That ended the talks -- at least for now.

Vikings officials did not respond to messages seeking a comment Tuesday.

It makes sense the Buccaneers would check on Moore's availability, considering he was inactive for the second time in four games Sunday. He played in Weeks 2 and 3, but in both cases Chester Taylor was out because of a hip injury.

Tampa Bay has been looking for a running back since Williams' season came to an end when he suffered a torn patellar tendon during a 20-7 victory Sunday over Carolina. Tampa Bay improved to 3-1; veterans Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham are listed behind Williams on the depth chart. Tampa Bay also reportedly contacted the agent for Corey Dillon, who is without a job after being released by New England during the offseason.

With the NFL trading deadline set for Oct. 16, Moore's name could continue to pop up. Moore, 25, is set to become a free agent after this season and it's clear that if the Vikings' top two running backs are healthy he will be the odd man out.

A fourth-round draft pick by the Vikings in 2004, Moore led the team in rushing (662 yards) and was third in receiving (37 catches) in 2005. He also served as the team's primary punt returner the past two years but has been replaced in that role by receiver Bobby Wade.

This season, Moore has rushed for 71 yards on 10 carries and caught six passes for 48 yards.

Meanwhile, a report on the Tampa Tribune website Tuesday speculated Bucs General Manager Bruce Allen was attempting to make a deal for Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie and Taylor. There was no evidence to support this, but it does not come as a surprise that the Bucs might be in the market for a left tackle.

In addition to Williams' injury, Tampa Bay also has lost Luke Petitgout for the season because of a knee injury. Donald Penn, who was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2006, will replace Petitgout for now. Penn was signed by the Bucs off the Vikings' practice squad last October.

James' return uncertain

Defensive end Erasmus James, the second of the Vikings' two first-round draft picks in 2005, has yet to be active for a game and it isn't clear when he will get back on the field.

James suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament and partially torn medial collateral ligament in the second game of 2006 and began training camp on the physically unable to perform list. He was activated following the first 19 practices and has missed only one practice since the regular-season began.

Nonetheless, the coaching staff still wants to see more from James before he plays in a game. "He's got a chance to be in there after the bye," coach Brad Childress said. "He did some good things in practice last week, but once again, it's those decisions that you make about who is up and who can do what. Who is aiding [the team] and who has value on special teams."

Ray Edwards has been starting at right end with James out.

Judd Zulgad • jzulgad@startribune.com

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