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Bucs' Williams expects to play in 2009 after torn knee tendon

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams got some encouraging news Monday. The second knee injury he's suffered in the past 15 months is not as severe as the first.

Cadillac Williams, RB
Tampa Bay Bucs
2008 rushing stats
Attempts: 63

Yards: 233

Average: 3.7

Touchdowns: 4

Williams tore the patellar tendon in his left knee when he was tackled at the end of a 28-yard run during Sunday's season-ending loss to the Oakland Raiders. He suffered a career-threatening injury to his right knee in September 2007 and was sidelined until six weeks ago.

But the fourth-year pro said that unlike last season, when the patellar tendon in his right knee was ruptured, the tendon pulled away from the bone this time and should be simpler to repair and require less recovery time.

"This process should be much easier," Williams said, adding that former Tampa Bay teammate and current Carolina kick returner Mark Jones suffered a similar injury when he was with the Bucs.

"After six, eight weeks he was rolling, so right now I'm just hoping for the best and hoping that's it."

The 2005 Offensive Rookie of the Year when he rushed for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns, Williams' production has been limited the past three seasons because of injuries. He missed the final 12 games of 2007 after undergoing surgery on his right knee and sat out the first 10 games of this season.

On Sunday, he was having his best game since being activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list in November. In addition to scoring two touchdowns and rushing for 78 yards on 12 carries, he also had a team-high five receptions for 37 yards against the Raiders.

"It's tough. I was getting a few carries. I was beginning to feel like my old self," Williams said. "My right knee, which is now my good knee, is feeling good. It's just a freak accident."

If his rehab goes well, Williams expects to play next season.

"It'll be another grueling process for him," coach Jon Gruden said. "I was just excited to see him come back to life as a ball carrier. I thought he caught the ball well. All indications are that he has a chance to be ready for training camp."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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