It would seem that according to different media outlets both Brian Griese & Earnest Graham have valid reasons for not being in attendance at the teams first mini camp of the Morris era. Griese is at home, in Denver tending to his wife, Brook, who is expecting the couples second child, while Graham is attending to family matters.
Luke McCown who currently sits atop the depth chart, is not willing to declare the team his.
“I don’t buy into the whole, “This is my team. This is that guy’s team,” McCown said. “This is our team. We’re a young team, we got young real fast. We lost a lot of key veteran guys that have been here for 14 years obviously with Derrick (Brooks), Ike (Hilliard) and Joey (Galloway), Kevin Carter – guys who have been in the league a long time…We’re a young team, we got young real fast and we’re going to grab onto each other. It’s not my team, it’s not Jeff Faine’s team, this is our team. We’re going to get better together.”
Newly signed linebacker Angelo Crowell, will sit out until he is medical cleared to participate in practice after recovering from knee surgery that sideline him for the entire 2008.
“[We] got a very favorable report yesterday from [Head Trainer] Todd [Toriscelli] and his training staff that he should be ready to go in May, as far as when we go with the OTAs,” said Bates. “I feel real comfortable that he’ll be ready to step in and we can see where he’s at.”
If anyone was wondering what position Crowell will battle for, it will be the SAM, but under the guidance of Jim Bates, the scheme calls for both the WILL & SAM linebackers to be interchangeable.
“He’ll play ‘Sam,’ which is our strongside linebacker,” said Bates. “The only thing is, when they do move the tight end, the Sam becomes the Will and the Will becomes the Sam, so it’s an interchangeable type position.”
Omar Cuff, who was on the team’s practice squad at the end of last season was participating on a try-out basis during the mini-camp. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Cuff was a rookie out of Delaware last year and rushed for 4,364 yards and 65 touchdowns during his collegiate career, including an astonishing 1,945 yards and 35 scores as a senior.
When it comes to Ronde Barber making the switch from being a classic Tampa 2 zone corner to a cover corner Bates is willing to adjust depending on the need.
‘He’s played this style before,” Bates said. “He’ll be going through the offseason, the OTAs, mini-camps, training camp and we’ll see where he’s at. And we can adjust a little bit to a player’s need, too. But, right now, he’s going to be a bump corner like all our corners will be and we’ll see how it develops over the next few months.”
Antonio Bryant is quickly becoming the mouth piece for the Bucs, something the team hasn’t had since the days of Warren Sapp & Simeon Rice.
“I’m not unhappy about being a franchise player,” Bryant said. “That’s not it. Just in the overall picture. But I’m past that. But if you ask me, I’ll tell you the truth. I’m not a sugarcoated person. I’m not going to lie to you.
“At the end of the day, of course I’m happy I’m here and this is what I like to do. I could’ve been back on the couch again. I’m not complaining about that. But for my situation and my lane in life and what’s going on in my lane, there were better options and better situations I wish I could’ve had myself in. But that’s over. We’re on our new foot, that’s why I’m here. So you all can’t go and report Antonio Bryant didn’t show up today. I’m here.”
“Remember, I was out of work myself in ‘07,” Bryant said. “I can understand what it’s like to be out of work. Don’t take it personal. You should never take it personal. Never count the next man’s pockets. I don’t do that. I don’t say, “This guy got this kind of money, I want that money.’ I’ve never done that. I prove myself everyday. I’m a competitor. But I don’t count the next man’s pockets. I don’t know what the next man is paying, I don’t know what he’s got to do to work or what he’s going through.
“I look at it like this: if you get a $9-million raise — did you count the taxes? Did you count the fact that Antonio Bryant just doesn’t take care of Antonio Bryant. Antonio Bryant has got kids, a mom, brothers, sisters. I’ve got people in my family lost their jobs, too. If you’re a guy in this situation and somebody says, “We’re going to give you $10-million,’ of course you’re a guy who’s going to go and think of more than just yourself. You’re going to go beyond that because you’ve got family, you’ve got other people that you’re the backbone for. That’s how I look at it, too. I’m the burden bearer in my family. When things happen, when a crisis happens, they come to me. I’m sure a lot of guys in this locker room understand the situation.”
“There were times I thought about the whole scenario,” Bryant said. ”You get franchised, now you go back out here and you guys have the success that you had last year and prove myself or better, now what’s the deal? Do you go back to the table and say, “I want all the money you’ve got? That’s how I look at it. Now what’s the scenario?’
Swing DE/DT Jimmy Wilkerson is getting alot of looks at LDE, where he rotated last season with Kevin Carter. Wilkerson is embracing the chance to finally find a permanent home on the left side, as he has cut nearly twenty pounds from his playing weight last season and is down to around 260 pounds in hopes of becoming quicker off the edge.
“I think it’s a good change,” Wilkerson said. “It puts me in a better position to get better pass rushing. I’ve been playing inside and out for six years. By the time preseason and the regular season rolls around, I’ll be ready to go.”