The Buccaneers held their typical morning practice on Monday, but their afternoon session was cancelled as the players were taken to a movie theater to see The Dark Knight, which is the new Batman movie. Despite having Monday proclaimed as day for his return, veteran wide receiver Joey Galloway (groin) did not come back to practice. Quarterback Jeff Garica (calf), fullback B.J. Askew (ankle), and defensive tackle Jovan Haye (groin) were held out with injuries. Wide receiver Antonio Bryant returned to practice after sitting out on Sunday. After practice Bucs head coach Jon Gruden discussed a number of topics including his backup quarterback Luke McCown.
"Well, Luke McCown had [two fumbled snaps]," Gruden said. "We don't get out here early every day all year and get the center-quarterback exchanges for any other reason. That's the fundamental in this game. At this point in time, it's ridiculous.
"The two [touchdowns] he made were great throws. Big time plays. The interception that was thrown was a great play by the right corner. What we need to do with this young quarterback is continue to work with him. He has 10 to 12 outstanding plays per day – explosive plays. But he has four or five plays where lightning strikes too close to me. To be honest with you, that's part of being a young quarterback. It's also one part of going against one hell of a defense every day in tight red zone areas. He's got to learn from that. McCown has got to learn to use his explosive athletic ability and create on the scramble once in awhile when nobody is open. He threw three or four touchdown passes out of the chute today that were awesome, but he has a couple of plays – a fumbled snap and an interception – that he's got to eliminate and that's why we keep practicing."
Gruden went on to discuss the backups in contention for the number two quarterback spot behind Garica.
"I really feel good with the way Brian Griese is moving this football team right now," Gruden said. "He's making a lot of throws, really good decisions and he's handling the no-huddle offense extremely well. I like the flash that Luke McCown has. He's got some real flash playmaking ability. We've just got to harness it a little bit better. We've got to do a bit better job coaching."
With the first preseason game at Miami five days away, the Buccaneers have not said whether Garcia will be back to play in the game. It is also unclear which quarterback would start in his place. Gruden was asked if the coaches have figured out a quarterback rotation for the game.
"No. Hell, we have so many quarterbacks," said Gruden. "I collect them, so we're going to have to figure out what to do. We'll have a starter and we'll try to get as many guys in the game as we can. But we'll make that assessment here in the next couple days and we'll go from there.
"We'll hand out a game plan, so to speak. We're not really specifically looking at the Dolphin defense. They're going to run a 3-4 defense. They've got a new defensive staff there. We're going to try to continue to challenge our players, so our players are familiar with their personnel and their scheme. But we're not going to spend countless hours game planning like we do for the regular season. We never do."
Gruden went on to touch on a number of subjects in speaking to the media. One of which involved some strategy to help prepare young defensive end Gaines Adams for the regular season.
"I see a lot of what I saw last year in the second half of the season," Gruden said. "I see a guy that not only can rush the passer and has speed to get the corner, but he's also becoming a much more complete player. We're running the ball left in our 9-on-7 drills more than we ever had, just to try to get him ready for the regular season and obviously we want to try to become a better running team, left and right, inside and out. He's a more complete player and he's got great upside."
ALSTOTT TO BE HONORED AT HALFTIME OF GAME AGAINST SEAHAWKS
Buccaneer great Mike Alstott will be honored at halftime of the Bucs game against the Seahawks next season. The game is on Sunday night October 19, 2008 at Raymond James Stadium.
The game will have a special commemorative ticket, a Mike Alstott commemorative gate giveaway, and there will be the halftime ceremony for Alstott. The Buccaneers have not announced whether his jersey will be retired.
UNDRAFTED ROOKIE GETTING NOTICE
Gruden also spoke about undrafted rookie free agent running back Clifton Smith, whose nickname is "Peanut."
"He looks like a peanut," said Gruden. "We don't like to go by nicknames, but he's extremely quick. I give Pat Hill at Fresno State a lot of credit. This kid knows football. He's natural. He doesn't struggle with the offense at all. He's comfortable in any formation. He can catch it, run it and he's a pretty good blitz pickup guy. He's not little. He's just not the tallest guy. He's 194 pounds. We like him a lot. He's shown well here."
Bucs veteran running back Warrick Dunn has been giving advice to Smith and sees a lot of ability in the young running back.
"Well I tried to talk to Clifton a little bit," said Dunn. "I just really tried to give him some pointers on different steps and the reads and just really being comfortable. I think he has raw talent. He has picked up the offense well also. It is just the little things about the game that he needs to learn, how to be at the right place at the right time when holes are open. I think he is starting to pick it up. As a rookie you have to have your ups and downs of going through camp. Right now I think he is a little tired. He is running a lot, and he hasn't experienced anything like this. I think over time he could be a really good player. I think he has enough power to go out there and make plays."
Rookie wide receiver Dexter Jackson changed his number from one to 10. That now makes him in compliance with NFL rules for numbers open to eligible receivers.
"Dexter Jackson changed his number. I don't know where that came from. Number 10 is better than number 1, I guess. Hopefully it is 10 times better."
Offensive lineman Chris Denman has officially been changed to guard on the Bucs roster, and defensive lineman Greg Peterson has been changed to defensive end.
FIRST DEPTH CHART RELEASED
The Buccaneers released their first depth chart of the season on Monday. There some notable names in certain places on the roster. McCown is listed at the number two quarterback ahead of Griese. First-round pick Aqib Talib is backing up left cornerback Phillip Buchanon. Defensive end Kevin Carter is ahead of Greg White, and veteran receiver Ike Hilliard is ahead of receivers Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall.
PETITGOUT UPDATES HIS STATUS
Bucs left tackle Luke Petitgout has not been able to practice thus far in training camp. He was placed on the active physically unable to perform list. He is eligible to come off of it any time. Petitgout tore a knee ligament in the fourth game of the season last year. The injury was not believed to be as bad as many players who have torn knee ligaments, and Petitgout was expected to be ready for training camp. After Monday morning's practice Petitgout spoke with Pewter Report.
"No, my rehab is going as scheduled," said Petitgout. "I think I'll be back pretty soon."
Petitgout was not sure if he would see any action in the preseason games.
"Don't know. You'd have to ask Coach Gruden about that," Petitgout said.
HALL OF FAME
Gruden voiced his pleasure with the players that were elected to this year's class for the Hall of Fame.
"I didn't see much of the game last night. Obviously we had meetings ourselves, but Hall of Fame weekend is more than just a preseason football game. The introduction of Emmitt Thomas, Art Monk, Darrell Green, Gary Zimmerman, Andre Tippett, what a great, great weekend."
QUOTE OF THE DAY I
Bucs RB Warrick Dunn, how do you feel about being reunited with LB Derrick Brooks:
"We've been together awhile. At Florida State, and the first five years of my career playing together. Throughout the years we've played against each other and supported each other, so it is good to be back with him. I've learned a lot from Brooks over the years. We were not as close in college as we are now. I was going through a lot, and I think now I've really grown and matured in a sense that I understand him and respect the things that he stood for. And what he wants to accomplish in his life and for his foundation. I've molded myself after Brooks. He set the bar and I'm hoping to surpass him."
I bet you didn't like being hit by him?
"No but he wasn't hitting me that hard anyways. It is good to not have to go against him because he is a guy that is real smart and intelligent. He pretty much knew what I was going to do on the other side of the ball. Sometimes it just went to having to try and beat him athletically. He made a lot of plays, and I tried to make some off him."
QUOTE OF THE DAY II
Brooks on how he feels about being reunited with Dunn:
"Well we got a gold tournament together coming up. With Warrick, obviously his role is a little different than it was in the past. He is going to play a major part of what we do here in 2008. Coach Gruden has really taken advantage of the opportunity to coach Warrick, because he was expecting to coach Warrick in 2002, so I think he is going to be put in unique situations that are basically created for him to make plays in the offense. I'm going to be excited to see it happen."
Brooks on who got the better of the matchup between he and Dunn:
"I'm definitely looking forward to not having to tackle him. I think I got the edge. There's no doubt about it."
QUOTE OF THE DAY III
Dunn on what prompted him to ask for his release from Atlanta:
"I never asked for my release. When you go out and sign a running back [Michael Turner] and pay him a lot of money. They came to me, asked me if I wanted to be released or traded. So who wants to be traded? I wanted to be able to pick my own spot, so I said I'd rather be released. I understand it. I met with coach [Mike] Smith in Atlanta and we talked a little bit. The direction they were going I really didn't see myself in that direction. It is a true rebuilding stage and I'm too far into my career to have to go through another rebuilding phase. They gave me my wish."
Dunn on whether the Michael Vick arrest and suspension was a distraction:
"Well honestly it is like anything else you see something coming you can deal with that. When you heard about the Michael Vick thing you can deal with that. The players understood that we all had the expectations that he may not be there, and no one was really worried about that. For us, the biggest thing was the coach. Just how he did his thing and the way that he left us at the end of the season hurt us the most. It wasn't the Michael Vick thing. I talked to Mike and he is remorseful. He is sorry about what he did to himself, the team, and also the city of Atlanta. I think the guys accepted the fact that he wasn't going to be there. The guys were just moving forward. I thought we had a good enough team to be competitive, but there were some crazy decisions and moves that were made that I don't think the players understood."
Dunn on if the Falcons believed in coach Bobby Petrino:
"Well you always try to be professionals and believe [in coach Petrino], but some things were tough to swallow. Last year it was tough to go to work. I mean just like anybody that has a nine to five when you go to work and you don't enjoy it. I mean, are you really going to play your best and be your best? I don't think so. I think guys try to be professional, at the same time it was tough to go to work and enjoy it. When you went to those gates at Flowery Branch a switch went on and you couldn't wait to leave. That's not how it is supposed to be."
Dunn on whether he thinks Vick deserves a second chance in the NFL:
"Of course. Of course, unfortunately I don't have any kids but I feel like I've raised some kids already. A kid makes a mistake or someone makes a mistake. Then what matters is if they've learned from their mistake and moved forward. He is already paying his debt to society. Being in prison, he is not free to do what he wants to do, he has to do what the government tells him to do. I think Mike is paying his debt to society and people should back off and let him get out, figure his life out, and if he wants to play the game of football then give him the opportunity, give him that respect and what he has earned. If you paid your debt to society then you've earned that."
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