Raheem Morris said he is up to the challenge of caling plays, even though he joked that he may lose his mythical title as the Bucs' "best defensive coordinator" on Sunday. Morris disclosed the injury report, which saw LB Barrett Ruud and TE Kellen Winslow return to practice and FS Tanard Jackson and WR Antonio Bryant sit out.
After a practice session that went over the scheduled hour-and-a-half on Thanksgiving Day, Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris said he is ready for the challenge of calling plays against Atlanta on Sunday. Morris assumed the role as the team’s defensive coordinator on Monday, replacing the demoted Jim Bates, and is eager to call plays at the NFL level for the first time. Morris’ only play-calling experience came at Kansas State University where his defense helped the Wildcats get to a bowl and led the Big 12 with 40 sacks that season.
“It’s just another challenge that presents itself for me,” Morris said. “Fortunately, I’m in position to call plays and I’ve got to do the best job I can do so the team can go out there and progress and we can all get on the same page. That’s a part of it. My quarterback now is Barrett Ruud, so obviously, being on the same page as my quarterback so he can relay that information to his team and he can get it to his guys on the back end to Ronde Barber, his captain, and Sabby [Piscitelli] and the guys in front of him. That’s all you have to do. Be on the same page and go out there and play the same game.”
Morris’ move to defensive coordinator has forced the team’s former defensive backs coach to get back on the practice field in a hands-on type of way. After three practices, he is relishing the move.
“It’s kind of my strength and what I really missed from being a head coach, and not being so much hands-on, but being a director, the general, the leader, the manager, ” Morris said. “Now, you pick up another title. I’ll be the manager, the deliverer, the general, and you get back on the field so you can be hands-on.”
Morris’ confidence in offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who is signed to a contract extension through at least 2010, has allowed him to take on the added assignment of calling the plays for the defense. Morris trusts Olson’s ability and has given him autonomy to direct the offense without the head coach sitting in on meetings throughout the day.
“There’s a great trust factor with all my coaches,” Morris said. “These guys all do a great job for you and they are all going to work as hard as they can. Greg is one of those guys. He goes in the lab. He does what he has to do. We’ll see each other at the end of the day and we’ll always know what is going on, so we’ll always be on the same page. He has a great philosophy. We have a great philosophy together. It’s still a team game. We have to play together and we have to figure out what we have to do that is best for our team to try to win each game.”
Morris knows that when he assumes the defensive coordinator title for his first game against Atlanta, he will lose his mythical title as “the greatest defensive coordinator in Bucs history.” Morris has joked with Pewter Report since become Tampa Bay’s head coach on January 17 that he holds that distinction because he didn’t allow any yards or points during his brief, fleeting tenure as defensive coordinator.
Last year on Christmas, Morris was promoted by then head coach Jon Gruden to the role of defensive coordinator for the 2009 season, replacing Monte Kiffin, who was leaving to serve in that capacity at the University of Tennessee. But when Morris was promoted to replace Gruden as the head coach of the Buccaneers less than a month later, he never got the chance to call plays on defense – until now.
“I might give the title up, but right now I am the only defensive coordinator without a yard gained on him!” Morris jokingly said. “I’m still that guy until Sunday. Don’t take my title yet! Call Monte [Kiffin]! Write it down! Take a picture!”
When asked if thinks the title will revert back to Kiffin after Sunday, Morris said, “We’ll see. We have to get the stats right!”MORRIS STILL UNSURE OF BATES’ ROLE MOVING FORWARD
For the third straight day, Bates, who was demoted from his defensive coordinator title on Monday, was not seen at practice. Morris revealed that Bates is still with the team in a consultant role.
“We’re still in the same spot,” Morris said. “He’s been here every day. He’s been here working in the lab giving me tendency information and things of that nature. He’s been helping me out. We’re working through it for both of us. He’s helping me out and he’s still involved.”
When asked if Bates would be traveling with the coaching staff to Atlanta when the Bucs will face the Falcons on Sunday, Morris was non-committal.
“We’re still working on that, too,” Morris said. “We’re seeing where he can help me at and where we can help this team get better and progress.”BUCS INJURY UPDATE
Morris addressed the Bucs’ injury report, which was rather light on Thursday. Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, who was limited on Wednesday due to a sore rib from taking a hit from a helmet, and tight end Kellen Winslow, who was also limited on Wednesday with a sore knee, were both fully participating in practice on Thursday. Cornerback Torrie Cox (knee) was the only player limited in practice.
The Buccaneers that did not participate in Thursday’s practice were free safety Tanard Jackson, who is ill, and wide receiver Antonio Bryant, who has been battling a sore knee all season. Bryant’s absence from on-field work during practice was due to a coaches’ decision and he is expected to play in Atlanta on Sunday.
“We have four practices this week,” Morris said. “We just want to keep him at his normal pace where he was going. He’s getting better and we just want to keep it like that.”MORRIS THANKFUL TO BE LIVING A DREAM
Morris was asked the proverbial Thanksgiving Day question, what is he thankful for this year?
“I’m thankful for every day,” Morris said. “I’m thankful for every situation I’m put in. We’re all blessed. We’re all living our dreams – us, the players, the coaches, the writers, the people around us. We’re all living our dreams. We get a chance to do what we love and what we love to do every day.”
Happy Thanksgiving from the Pewter Report staff to Bucs fans worldwide. Thank you for the support in allowing us to live our dream, which is to provide you with the best Bucs coverage possible.
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