The Tampa Bay Buccaneers concluded their three-day rookie mini-camp at One Buccaneer Place on Sunday morning.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said he was pleased with the effort put forth by the team, which was made up of Tampa Bay's 2008 draft class, four first-year players, five undrafted free agent signees and 38 tryout players that were hoping to make a good enough impression to be brought to training camp in July.
‘I was really pleased with the players and coaches," said Gruden. "We got a lot of work done and guys really worked hard. I'm just really disappointed that we won't have the opportunity to take as many of these guys to training camp because they sure deserve it. The number we're allowed to take is down to 80 and that's going to deny some of these guys the opportunity to compete. It really makes me sick in some ways. I really feel bad for them."
But the Bucs apparently feel good about a few of the tryout players, or good enough to consider signing them to the team's offseason roster as early as this week.
"There were four or five guys that we're going to try really hard to put on our football team," said Gruden.
"I would [tell you the players' names], but I don't want other teams to know about it to be honest with you. That's the best way I can put it. There were three or four guys that really did some good things out here and were impressive."
The Bucs have traditionally recognized a few players at the end of their rookie mini-camps under Gruden. The three players recognized at the conclusion of Sunday's practice and the three-day rookie-mini-camp were linebacker Ron McCullough (Bethune Cookman), fullback Sam White (Ohio State) and center Jon Rochford (Miami).
"They were three guys that the staff voted on and really stood out because of their effort," said Gruden. "I have a lot of respect for those guys. We gave them their helmet to take home with them to use as a piece of motivation to hopefully keep things working where they get an opportunity one day."
BOYD, JACKSON LIMITED IN PRACTICE Two of Tampa Bay's 2008 draft picks, second-round selection wide receiver Dexter Jackson (second-round selection) and running back Cory Boyd (seventh-round pick), were extremely limited during Sunday's practice.
Jackson, who was also limited during Saturday's workout with what he says is a sore hamstring, took more reps during individual drills on Sunday, but still missed the majority of the workout.
Boyd was sporting a brace on his left knee and walked off the practice field and into the training room roughly 20 minutes into the morning session.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said both Jackson and Boyd would be ready to go when Tampa Bay holds its next organized team activity on May 16.
"He's okay," Gruden said of Boyd. "Some of these guys, maybe we're doing a little bit more than they're accustomed to this time of the year. Boyd is fine. Dexter Jackson was limited here. I think they understand they better be ready to go on May 16."
GRUDEN URGES DT MOORE TO GET IN SHAPE There's a reason why Tampa Bay traded up in the fourth round to select Maryland defensive tackle Dre' Moore last weekend.
Now Bucs head coach Jon Gruden wants Moore to prove to the team that they made the right decision in selecting him.
The first thing the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Moore needs to do, according to Gruden, is get himself in shape and acclimated to the Florida heat and humidity.
"He's an explosive big man," Gruden said of Moore. "I think he'll be the first to tell you that his stamina is going to be an issue. He's got to get in much better condition. That's why we have that industrial weight room machine factory over there. He is strong and he's very powerful. His stamina needs to be addressed and it will be addressed."
Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin concurred with Gruden's assessment of Moore.
"He's 6-foot-4, about 315 and he's running a 4.85," Kiffin said. "But it's hot down here and he has to get in better shape. That happens to all these guys when they come down here. That's what is nice about having rookie mini-camp. They go back home and realize that as hot as it is, it's going to be hotter. This is cool."
Kiffin said the Buccaneers have Moore playing the three-technique (under tackle) position in the team's defensive scheme and hope to have him help improve Tampa Bay's pass rush.
"The power rush – you can't do that in shorts, you know," Kiffin said. "He'll look better when he gets in pads. When you talk about a quick three [technique defensive tackle], it's all about the hands and the pass rushing stuff. But now you take a power three [technique defensive tackle], and you get a big push up the middle. We've got to get the inside set, with Greg White and Gaines [Adams] – I like the speed outside. But if the quarterback steps up, we want to get a big push up the middle and that's what we're going to try to do with him as a power three. We can always play him as a nose tackle, but right now we've got him as a power three – the same position Jovan Haye plays."
QB JOHNSON IS A WORK IN PROGRESS Even with the Bucs planning to trim their group of quarterbacks from seven to five by the time the team reports to training camp on July 25, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden stressed Sunday that rookie QB Josh Johnson was a work in progress.
In fact, with Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown and Brian Griese to go to camp and either Chris Simms or Bruce Gradkowski likely to go to camp while the other is the odd man out, Gruden said Johnson could be hard pressed to see much action as a rookie.
"I really like him," Gruden said of Johnson, Tampa Bay's fifth-round pick. "It's going to be an exciting process. Reps at the quarterback position could be limited for him since I keep reading that we have six or seven triggers. He might not get any reps, but we'll do our best to get him ready. We're excited about him."
HAYES IMPRESSES GRUDEN The 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker might be considered undersized, but Bucs sixth-round draft pick Geno Hayes was one of several players that caught the eye of head coach Jon Gruden during the team's three-day rookie mini-camp.
Hayes notched 156 tackles, eight sacks and 29.5 stops for a loss in 21 starts at Florida State before he opted to skip he senior season to play in the NFL.
The Bucs are hoping they reap the benefits of Hayes' decision to go pro.
"He has athletic ability and he's as advertised," Gruden said of Hayes. "He's going to be a good contact player when we start putting the pads on. He's instinctive and he has good functional speed. He appears natural and comfortable in this defense, and we're excited about that."
QUOTE OF THE DAY Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on some of the younger players that are attempting to stand out in Tampa Bay:
"They have a long way to go. There are too many guys comparing Dexter Jackson to Joey Galloway. There's no comparison. There's no comparison in Josh Johnson to Doug Williams, either. These guys have a long way to go to earn that kind of status. It starts with learning the plays and going out here and executing and making plays on a consistent basis. If you can do that for a couple of years then we can start some of the comparisons around here."
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