While the Tampa Buccaneers have managed to stay relatively healthy through the first half of the preseason, several players have been hampered by an assortment of nicks and dings, some more concerning than others. In his daily after-practice press conference, Raheem Morris talked about the players who are improving and who he expects to see on the field Saturday night against the Dolphins.
“[Good] to see Rejus [Arrelious Benn] out there catching bombs and running down the field,” Morris said. “Luke Stocker [is] getting healthier and all those guys coming back. I saw a little bit of [Aqib] Talib and a little bit of [Myron] Lewis today. Price was another big one to see out there. He is starting to get some of his quickness back. It was a lot of fun to watch, and [I] felt really good about seeing some of those guys coming back [to practice].”
Benn, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL [anterior cruciate ligament], has been chomping at the bit to see game action, and both he and his head coach are hopeful that happens Saturday night against Miami.
“I’m hoping the assumption is right,” Morris said. “Right now he is on track to play. His first pads day was a fun one. To watch those guys running around out there in pads for the first time, watch them huff and puff, that was fun to [see]. But he has really been running himself back into shape for a guy coming off that [type of] injury. He has been looking strong, powerful; looking explosive.”
“It was hard, I’m a contact kind of guy,” Benn said. “I don’t shy away from contact. I had an injury – it was freak – but I forget I even had it sometimes. My knee can be stronger than the other one. I did a good job of working on both knees not just one.
“We need to get back to where we were last year. Just get off. Mike [Williams] said he wasn’t feeling right because I wasn’t out there. It feels good to be out there with him and all the other guys.”
While much focus has been on Aqib Talib’s possible suspension, it is easy to forget the former Jayhawk is another who suffered a serious injury last season and is still battling to get back to 100 percent. Morris said Talib was back on the practice field after being held back the last two weeks.
“He did most of the [drills in practice],” Morris said. “I saw him out there a lot. I didn’t watch the tape [yet]. He went out there and did a lot of practice; he was a little rusty obviously. He isn’t really opening it up yet. But I’d like to think he is getting closer.”
Another player coaches, management and fans have been clamoring to see play is defensive tackle Brian Price. Morris is optimistic Price will see playing time Saturday against Miami.
“I think so. He is working toward that way this week,” Morris said. “This is one of his better practice weeks since he has been back from ... I won’t tell you a story there. Since he has been back [to] training camp he came in heavier he did have the quickness, but you can tell that he did not have the shape because he was not able to run. He came back [and] he had some sore hamstrings so he did not look great [because] he had the sore hamstrings.
“We had to give him some time off here and now he's come back and had two practice days in a row [and] you can see the difference in his attitude in the hallway. [Price says], 'Did you see it on tape?' He gives me his little move in the hallway. But he's excited. He's pumped up to go. He will be as ready as anybody to play. You know now all the question marks around him based off all the stuff that you all know nobody in this room can handle, including me. You rip my hamstrings off me and I am hanging it up. I am going to the house. You guys can call me there. I am going to become a writer or your guys’ editor. One of the two, but I am certainly proud where he is [and] certainly proud that he is getting better.”
PewterReport.com spoke to Cody Grimm in the locker room earlier Wednesday and Grimm said he was feeling healthy.
“It feels good,’’ Grimm said. “No real problems. Everything is going really well and it isn’t giving me any trouble.”
Morris commented on his second-year safety out of Virginia Tech.
“I think he's right there,” Raheem said. “I cannot wait to get him in full-time, game-time mode. That first week versus Kansas City he went out there and got a couple good hits. We got him out there last week [and] we had some issues, but nothing about Cody. He kind of went out there and played well. He has continued to play well every time he has had an opportunity. He's one of those guys that is practicing well. He's one of those guys that is very opportunistic [and] he gets his hands on a lot of balls.”
Fifth-round draft pick Ahmad Black is still suffering from a high ankle sprain and the former Gator told Pewterreport.com that the waiting to play is driving him crazy.
“It is really, really, really frustrating,” Black said. It was really unfortunate what happened. There was nothing I could do about it. I was just doing my job and got clipped from behind. I get really agitated just talking about [not being able to play].”
While addressing the media Wednesday, Morris commented on Black’s situation.
“Ahmad was really coming [on] then he had the unfortunate ankle sprain,” Morris said. “Hopefully he gets better and I get a chance to get him out there for one of these last two weeks so he can show what he has. He is starting to get better, but I’ll be locked in on everyone behind him at this point. But he is certainly focused in the meeting room and hopefully he can pick himself back up and get going.”
Second round draft pick Da’Quan Bowers is another player that has much to prove. Morris is confidant Bowers being 100 percent is right around the corner.
“I feel great about where Bowers is going,” Morris said. “You see him get better and better every practice. He's coming off the surgeries well, but you see him get stronger. He's really starting to develop his power rush and he's really starting to understand that it is going to be probably one of his big time tools in this league."
"He's a Strahan-looking [and] Kevin Carter-looking type of guy," Morris continued, referring to former New York Giant Michael Strahan and Carter, a one-time Buc. "Those guys won on strength and power. Kevin Carter, he had fifteen sacks. He might have had fifteen bull rushes. Just get-out-of-my-way type of deal. We remember that type of demeanor from him so he has got assert himself into that presence."
“I am sure in college he had some quickness over some of those guys and was able to use that quickness. And he will have some advantages here at this level, too. Now for the most part what I have seen on tape that is really starting to come back is power. His get-off. Last week he really had a great, powerful rush, then he kind of stopped. It was almost like he was getting ready to hit free [Josh Freeman] in a game and like Raheem is back there yelling in the pocket. Then [co-defensive line coach] Keith [Millard] got on him, kind of showing him what he can do and how he can finish it off. I am looking forward to him continuing to get better as well. You can see him getting stronger and stronger every single day.”
“In the beginning you kind of looked at him [and] he kind of looked slow-motion. Then as he has been going, you kind of see the short-space quickness start to come back. You see that crouching tiger stance that you guys first noticed. And then after that you start to see the explosion after you make contact with another human ... I really think he's going to start to come on here more and more. Although, Michael Bennett makes him better. Michael Bennett has given us maximum effort [and] is really playing really well. It has got to raise the bar for Da’Quan.”