In an effort to cut off media speculation, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden told the media that assistant head coach/defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Muire would not be participating in the Senior Bowl next week due to health matters.
"There's going to be a couple of coaches who won't go to Mobile," said Gruden. "We have a couple of coaches that have suffered some injuries that need to be tended to. Rod Marinelli will not participate in Mobile. I want to be perfectly clear that he will be back and we're excited about that. He had an injury that needed to get addressed, much like (Anthony) McFarland and some of those other defensive linemen.
"Bill Muir is having what we call the 50,000-mile checkup. He's going to be unable to perform and on the PUP. But like I said earlier, he's going to be ready to go when he gets back. Aaron Kromer will take over the offensive line in Mobile and he and Art Valero will collaborate there."
Gruden, who will lead the South squad, said that he is looking forward to coaching in the Senior Bowl next week and that enjoyed his first Senior Bowl coaching experience in 1999 when he was with the Oakland Raiders.
"I've had some great experiences there," said Gruden. "In 1999 we were able to not only coach the best players out there, we were able to get to really know them - guys that love football and guys that prepared a certain way. We coached and later drafted guys like Eric Barton (now a New York Jets linebacker) and Rod Coleman (now a defensive tackle with the Atlanta Falcons) at that Senior Bowl.
"It was very beneficial for not only the top 20 or 30 players and the players that are obvious to everyone, but even some of the players down the line. I thought that was really a winning edge for us that particular year."
The Buccaneers have 11 picks in the 2005 NFL Draft, including the fifth overall pick. The Senior Bowl will be played on Saturday, January 29 at 3:00 p.m. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The game will be televised on ESPN. Senior Bowl practices start after Monday's weigh-in on January 24.
GRUDEN COMMENTS ON RB TRAVIS HENRY
Gruden was asked about the Bucs' interest in trading for Buffalo Bills running back Travis Henry, who disclosed that Tampa Bay's interest in him in a report in Tuesday's Palm Beach Post.
"Anybody who's a free agent - you've already accussed me of being interested in all of them," said Gruden. "We're looking into his situation. He's not an unrestricted free agent. We'll look into his situation as we will any running back who has availability."
Henry, who topped 1,300 yards rushing in 2002 and 2003, is unhappy with having to share carries and play a number two role for Buffalo behind starting tailback Willis McGahee. Henry, a native of Frostproof, Fla., said he wanted to be traded to the Miami Dolphins.
The Bucs have made upgrading their 29th-ranked ground game their top priority this offseason.
BRIAN GRIESE UPDATE
Gruden gave a quick update about the status of Bucs starting quarterback Brian Griese, who will need to restructure his contract to lower his $8.1 million salary cap value to remain in Tampa Bay. Griese's agent, Ralph Cindrich, has begun discussions with Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen and those discussions will continue next week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
"I guess there was a feeling that we wanted to get something done immediately, but this is probably going to be a situation that takes a little bit of time," Gruden said. "Brian's agent, Ralph Cindrich, has been in this business a long time and knows what he's doing. We'll let some time go by here and hopefully get Brian back. He did some great things for us."
Griese set team records for completion percentage (69.3 percent), quarterback rating (97.5) and yards per attempt (7.83) in 2004 when he started 10 games and saw action in 11. Griese guided the team to a 5-6 record when he played. The Bucs were 0-6 without him at the helm.
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