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Observations From An OTA

Posted May 22, 2008 by Roy Cummings

Updated May 22, 2008 at 01:55 PM

TAMPA - After awhile, football practice tends to get pretty monotonous. It’s hard for a lot of players to get juiced up for it day after day, even when they’re in the middle of the regular season and a pivotal game is looming just around the corner.

You can only imagine then how tough it is for some players to get up for an offseason workout. With their next game still months away players often need something new and fresh to break up the monotony, and Bucs coach Jon Gruden has come up with a pretty good spritzer.

Every year he moves at least one offseason workout to Raymond James Stadium, and that’s where Thursday’s organized team activity (OTA) was held. This one was also open to the media, so for anyone Jonesing for a Bucs fix, here are some nuggets to chew on until next month’s minicamp.

The most interesting note involved defensive linemen Greg White, who took the majority of the first team reps at left defensive end. We’ve been hearing that there was a plan afoot to make White the starter at that spot and Thursday’s workout seemed to confirm that.

While White took the bulk of the reps at left end Gaines Adams worked the right side. Jovan Haye and Chris Hovan worked inside. The rest of the first team defense looked pretty much as expected, with Phillip Buchanon working at left corner and Aqib Talib working second unit right corner.

The only surprises, if you can call them that, were at SLB, where Ryan Nece worked in place of Cato June (foot) and at SS, where Sabby Piscitelli worked in place of Jermaine Phillips, who has missed this week’s workouts while tending to a family matter.

Other notable players who were absent or sitting out included RB Earnest Graham, WR Joey Galloway, WR Ike Hilliard, LT Luke Petitgout and LG Arron Sears. All but Graham, who is sitting out in an effort to spur contract talks, were taking time off to rest up from offseason surgeries or an injury sustained in a previous workout.

With Sears out Dan Buenning took the bulk of the reps at left guard. Donald Penn took the first-team reps at LT and Michael Bennett, Kenneth Darby and undrafted free agent Clifton Smith got the bulk of the looks at RB.

Bennett seemed to get most of the work there, but he also lost a fumble during a rather sloppy set of 11-on-11 drills. There were several bad center-quarterback exchanges during those drills and at least one interception was thrown, that by Brian Griese.

The offense, in fact, struggled mightily to complete its passes. In fact, the defense was so dominant that at one point late in the workout, defensive backs coach Raheem Morris shouted out, “Has anyone seen a completion here?’‘

There were a few, including one by QB Luke McCown on a 45-yard bomb deep into the end zone to wideout hopeful Cortez Hankton. Hankton showed tremendous concentration on the play as CB Darrell Hunter was the first to get a hand on the ball, batting it up in the air. As Hunter hit the ground, though, Hankton grabbed the ball out of midair to make the play.

The play was one of several for McCown, who shared reps at QB with Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese. Bruce Gradkowski didn’t get a single rep during the team drills and it wasn’t until the team was called back onto the field for a few extra plays that rookie Josh Johnson got a throw or two in.

Coach Jon Gruden said later that the lack of work doled out to Gradkowski and Johnson was part of the regular routine in which quarterbacks are given time off to rest up. He said Gradkowski and Johnson will get more reps in later workouts.

On Graham’s absence, Gruden expressed little in the way of concern. Like General Manager Bruce Allen before him he noted that Graham missed a lot of the offseason workouts last year and was confident the situation would work itself out over time.

“I hope to see him soon,’’ Gruden said of Graham. “He’s a key member of our team. In the meantime, we’re very pleased with our addition of Warrick Dunn. Michael Bennett has been outstanding in the offseason. I hope Earnest gets in here soon. He’s a good football player.’‘

Gruden also expressed confidence that Jeff Garcia’s contract problems would eventually be worked out. Like Graham, Garcia is seeking an extension to the contract that expires after this season, and while he has yet to miss a workout, he has hinted that a holdout may be in the offing if a deal cannot be reached soon.

“I’m very confident that it will all work itself out,’’ Gruden said of the Garcia affair. “In the meantime, we’re going to get ready to play. I do know this, he’s a great competitor and a great leader. He did play stellar football for us. He was clutch for us. He’s a critical football player for us and hopefully it all works out.’‘

Reader Comments

Por (Mitch R) on May 22, 2008 (Suggest removal)

YES! YES! YES! This is what I’m talking about.  Thanks Roy!  Finally some headway on what’s going on.  How about this as an idea for future blogs: Reports on the progression of each rookie at camp.  Start with Talib, then Jackson, etc.  Their play, their progression with the pro game, etc.  That’s the type of stuff that’s good for discussion.  I want to know more about Dexter Jackson in particular.  Please give us more.

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Por (Vic Mackie) on May 22, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I can’t believe you actually watched some practice Roy. I usually go to a website for those reports. Keep it up and maybe one day you actually might know football. Although that seems to be a bit much to ask for you. And just because you probably don’t want to be there doesn’t mean that the players don’t love football and enjoy practice.

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Por (todd) on May 22, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Finely, some news we want to hear. Bennett is looking outstanding so far huh? Thats great. And it sounds like the Defense is looking dominant. Thats some great news Roy!!!  The WR Hankton sounds like hes working out pretty good. Thats going to be tough to figure out who’s going to win the WRs spot on the team.

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Por (BigBucfan) on May 22, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I agree guys. Good job Roy. This report did give me a Good Bucs Fix. I am a complete junkie when it comes to our team. I love this game.

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Por (Mike Weingartner) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

cool..the offense sounds just like always.horrible. and like always we have a dominant defense. but all 16 games we play are going to be against good defenses so . . .

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Por (doug e love) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Jonesing?  Haven’t heard that since the “Big Johnson” t-shirts were popular.

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Por (BUC DEEZ) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Thanks for the fix well done. If i may vent for a minute Grudens cool but i have to say his offense hasn’t done sh—since our playoff Superbowl run we see more three and outs than baseball Gruden need to do some tweaks to his schemes so his offense can produce more yards & points. I mean he is at the office at 3 am and all that right ?  All the D needs is 20 points thats it and we will win more games than not. SHOUT OUT TO DOUG WILLIAMS WHO IS THE REASON I’M A BUC FOR LIFE !!!!!!!!

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Por (Joseph c White) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Glad to hear that Bennett is working out well , got to quit fumbling. Griese can’t go even a practice without throwing an interception . Sure hope Garcia dosen’t go down , Griese sucks.

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Por (Nick) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Time to pack your bags Garcia, those poultry numbers you put up last year doesn’t cut it for Gruden. Griese was sigbed to replace you bud. Graham too, feel bad for they guy but Tampa doesn’t think your worth more than Bennett or Dunn. They were bought in to replace you too Graham. Still think Simms will show up at mand-camp once Garcia is gone. I see Simms, McCown, Josh Johnson. Griese is done, Simms will hit WR 60+ yards downfild and bring in the deep threat, It sure isn’t Garcia, Griese or Grads, thats for sure.

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Por (Mitch R) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Nick you are delusional.

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Por (todd) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I think your right Mitch.

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Por (Neo Ross) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Well i dont think all this contract issue will continue or even reach training camp ,and Garcia is a very Good QB and a big reason why we where competive last season but the man is 38 years old , and we are counting on him not to get hurt and last i checked this is THE NFL where people get hurt is the nature of the beast and i do agree that Griese isnt the answer but is a good insurance incase Jeff goes down ‘‘wait i meant to say when he goes down which is only a matter of time’’ and Simms i like him he’s a good QB and a good arm but i dont see him in our future , and for all the bucs fans lets hope all goes well because we have one other concern that is NO WIDE OUT’S besides Joey G who else we have ????

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Por (George Leslie Hicks) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I can’t believe you the fans in my hometown where I grew up in 60’s. How dare you say that if Garcia goes down Griese would’t step up and do a quality job. Griese is a veteran and if he is the b/up then if Simms is still here then he would be the third QB. With the rookie the 4th qb or the practice team for a year. . I guess people forgets we WON A SUPERBOWL . I will always remember that. How PROUD I WAS WITH TAMPA. I know it was a DUNGY ERA Team. But The Owners Decided to Let Him Go, And 4 High drafts Choices and 8 million dollars to Oakland. Here we are, May be Tampa can return to the playoffs again just like last year. Iam 63 this SEPT, and I will always be a BUC at Heart until I die. GO BUCS

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Por (todd) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Neo Ross,

We also have Antonio Bryant
          Dexter Jackson
          Ike Hilliard
          Paris Warren
          Marice Stovall

Also the WR we signed to the practice squad “Hankton.” We have some talent there NEO. We just have to wait and see what happens. Bryant,Jackson,Warren those three are the key on who’s going to step up and help Joey. I think all 3 of them step up and do well.

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Por (Neo Ross) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Well ill start by saying that i love my Tampa Bay Buccaneers and ive been a fan since i found out what football was lol and as far as the QB’s goe well i like all of our QB’s except Bruce K sorry kid i just dont believe in him, and as for Griese and Garcia Garcia had a real good year with the bucs and now he is a year older and Griese as far as i remember he went 5-1
before Zach Thomas rolled on his knee then it was the Sims show but i dont believe that Gacia will go all 16 games with out getting hurt i just dont want to lay my entire season resting on some scronny ##### 38 year old qb ..again thats just me .

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Por (kyle fountain) on May 23, 2008 (Suggest removal)

griese version 2.0

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Por (Joseph c White) on May 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Mr Hicks I also have been a fan of the Bucs since they were the yucs . I remeber the superbowl Dungy new defense and is a very good coach, Gruden took us to the promised land. Now as far as our QB’s go we can win with Garcia if Griese has to play for any extended time he’ll move the ball but when it comes time to go for the win he’ll throw the killer interception. There is a reason why he was with the Broncos, Dolphins , Bucs , Bears and back here. Its not because he is a playoff caliber Qb . Griese Sucks ! If he was any good he would be still in one of those other cities.

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Por (RCG2) on May 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Bucs have some interesting stockpiles at the “talent” positions on offense.  At QB, Garcia is obviously the top dog.  Although he had a nice 1st half, he was not able to complete the 2nd half of the season.  I don’t see that changing with age.  I’m not sure why Luke McKown isn’t in the lead for the #2 spot.  Seems to be a talented guy who just needs a little experience.  Griese is NOT the answer, nor is Simms and Gradkowski.  At running back, you have Graham(hopefully), Dunn, and Bennett.  Who knows what Caddy will be able to do and when.  Receiver are not as bad as people might think.  Just my opinion, but I would not give up on Michael Clayton.  I think he could have a big year given a few more opportunities.

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Por (Greg) on May 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Wide Receivers who should make the team: Galloway and Jackson. Stovall and Warren. Antonio Bryant or Clayton. Hilliard if there is room. But, then again Jon will get in the way of talent won’t he!

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Por (dan bredwell) on May 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

How about we stop anticipating how someone is going to play based on their age…If Jeff can walk the walk, than lets just sit back and enjoy the show!

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Por (todd) on May 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Well said Dan!!!! I know a whole lot of old farts that can get the job done alot better than the young Bucs out there. I believe experience tops youth anyday in most cases.

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Por (RCG2) on May 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Todd and Dan,
Like it or not, old man Garcia did NOT last the whole season last year.  I hope he plays well and stays healthy, but he couldn’t do it last year.  And it get no easier as you get older.  I think it would be foolish to put all your hopes on Garcia.

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Por (teamguy) on May 24, 2008 (Suggest removal)

We need a QB…long term. a good one. I hate the fact that every year we struggle on offense to the point the defense has to carry them. Where’s the jaugernaut “O” gruden is supposed to put out?
It all start with he main ball controller. Then the O Line. Lets get a gamer in there.

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Por (todd) on May 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)


We might have one in Josh Johnson. This kid might start sooner then everybody thinks. He might be a true baller. I can’t wait to find out.
    (GO BUCS)

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Por (Billy Hill) on May 25, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I dont know about this Josh Johnson Fella.  He dont look to smart.  I bet he will have trouble with a complex NFL offensive system and NFL defences will be even more complex for him.

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