Dilfer Back In For Bucs

With Eric Zeier nursing sore ribs, Trent Dilfer likely will get another shot as Tampa Bay's starting quarterback.

Coach Tony Dungy said Thursday that Zeier aggravated an injury suffered in last Sunday night's loss at Detroit and Dilfer probably will replace him this week against the New Orleans Saints.

"I would anticipate that's probably the way we'll go unless Eric makes a miraculous recovery," Dungy said. "It's unfortunate. We're sorry for Eric, but Trent will do well."

Dilfer was benched last week because of a lack of production, ending a streak of 70 consecutive regular-season starts. The Bucs (3-4) are 29th in the NFL in passing, 27th in total offense, and haven't scored a touchdown in eight quarters.

Dungy turned to Zeier in hopes of sparking the team against Detroit. The fifth-year pro threw for 256 yards, but was sacked five times and only produced a field goal in a 20-3 loss.

He separated four ribs on his right side when he was hit in the first quarter by cornerback Lamar Campbell. He finished the game, but aggravated the injury throwing in practice Wednesday.

"It's nothing broken. We had the X-rays right after the game, and they were negative. We felt that he was going to be OK," Dungy said. "But the more he threw, the worse it got."

Although Zeier sat out practice Thursday because he couldn't throw, he hasn't ruled out playing and possibly starting Sunday.

"We'll see if I can come back (Friday) and throw at all and take it from there," Zeier said.

"It's not a good situation for me, personally. But if I can't go out and help this team win, then I don't need to be out there. That's my No. 1 concern above anything."

Dilfer, who won his last start despite leading the team to just two field goals in a 6-3 victory over Chicago, said he felt bad for Zeier, whose promotion last week had been billed as "permanent."

"This was a great opportunity for his career. He did everything he could. He was hurt the whole game, and I thought he played very well with the injury," Dilfer said. "I've been there. One of the hardest things to do is to play well when you're hurt. And he did that."

Dungy was noncommital when asked if Dilfer's future as the starter might hinge on how he plays against the Saints. The quarterback insisted all he's thinking about is this week.

"I'm not going to waste time thinking about the future," Dilfer said.

"It's my job to go in there and do everything I can to help us win the game. We've got to get in the end zone. Whether it's me, Eric or whoever, we've got one objective this week, and that's get the ball in the end zone as mny times as we can."

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