BUCS REPORT TO CAMPThe Buccaneers reported to Celebration Hotel near Orlando for the start of training camp on Thursday afternoon.
All 10 of Tampa Bay’s draft picks, including first-round picks Gaines Adams and second-round selections Arron Sears and Sabby Piscitelli, were signed to their rookie contracts in time to avoid any holdouts.
“It’s important,” Gruden said. “It’s really a credit to [general] Bruce [Allen] and [senior assistant] Kevin Demoff. It’s a credit to [agent] Fletcher Smith and it’s a credit to Gaines Adams. He’s a guy that told us from the very beginning that he wanted to play and wanted to contribute, and I think for him to be at his best he’s got to be here. It’s something we’re excited about, but it’s something we expected.”
With contracts out of the way and the players checked in to Celebration Hotel, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden shared his enthusiasm for the team’s fresh start after a 4-12 season in 2006.
“I’m very excited about the beginning of training camp,” said Gruden. “They tell me that we’re allowed to hit this time of year, so I’m looking forward to that.”
The Bucs will have 87 players on their offseason roster when they take the field at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex for the team’s first practice on Friday morning.
CULPEPPER SIGNING NOT IMMINENT Perhaps it was a chance meeting, or maybe more, but Bucs head coach Jon Gruden discussed his recent meeting with former Miami Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper on Thursday and a signing doesn’t appear to be imminent.
Culpepper, 30, was released by the Dolphins earlier in the offseason. A former first-round pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Culpepper played collegiately for Central Florida.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Culpepper has started 84 of the 85 career games he’s played in. He has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 21,091 yards and tossed 137 touchdowns and 89 interceptions.
However, Culpepper has played in just 11 games over the past two seasons due to a serious knee injury he sustained during the latter part of the 2005 season.
But with Jake Plummer failing to report to training camp and Chris Simms’ future in question due to his issues with throwing form and mechanics, the Bucs have indeed expressed an interest in landing Culpepper.
“Daunte was in Tampa and so was I, so I’ll be damned if I was going to let him fly out of Tampa without seeing him,” said Gruden. “He’s a heck of a quarterback. He’s thrown a lot of touchdown passes. I just met him and looked into his situation as many teams in this league are. Nothing is imminent and nothing is concrete in terms of what he’s looking for or where he’s going to wind up.”
SIMMS ON THE MEND?Bucs quarterback Chris Simms struggled with his throwing form and mechanics throughout the offseason.
Simms underwent a season-ending splenectomy after he ruptured his spleen in a Week 3 contest vs. Carolina last season.
Before he was injured, Simms had tossed one touchdown and seven interceptions.
That sluggish start along with a shaky offseason could have Simms in danger of making Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster.
But according to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, Simms should be healthy and ready to compete for a roster spot and possibly a starting job.
“He’s had a serious injury and it takes time to heal,” said Gruden. “My understanding is he is ready to go. We’re going to work hard with him on his fundamentals, techniques and all of his issues. But we expect him to compete and we expect him to return to the form he had two years ago.”
BUCS WAIVE WILLIAMS, PLACE BENNETT ON IRIn addition to releasing defensive end Simeon Rice on Thursday, Tampa Bay made a pair of roster moves, waiving tight end T.J. Williams and placing DE Charles Bennett on injured reserve.
Bennett, who originally entered the NFL with the Bucs as a seventh-round draft pick in 2006, played in three games last season.
Williams ruptured his Achilles’ tendon during his rookie season shortly after being selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
QUOTE OF THE DAYBucs head coach Jon Gruden on what questions he needs answered in training camp:
“I’m looking for a lot, obviously. I want these guys to play enthusiastic football. I want to be a faster football team and a more physical one at that. And we’ve got to make plays. We’ve got to make plays. We dropped 27 passes last year; I want to be remembered for the one-handed catch. I want to be remembered for the tremendous open-field tackle. I want to be ready for the big hits and gang-tackling, a swarming defense and things of that nature. I want to get back to that. Obviously, having a deeper, better group of football players, hopefully our coaches do a better job than we did a year ago and it will all come together for us.”
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