The Bucs are only two days into training camp and the injury bug has already claimed its first victim.
Tampa Bay 10-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks missed Saturday morning’s practice and likely will be sidelined this afternoon with a “tweaked” hamstring injury he suffered during Friday afternoon’s workout.
Although they don’t believe the injury is serious, the Bucs are not sure how long Brooks will be sidelined for in training camp.
“He has a slight hamstring, I believe,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of Brooks. “We’ll see how he is in a couple of days, but I’m confident he’ll be back soon.”
With Brooks out, the Bucs used several players, including Cato June, in his place at the weakside linebacker spot.
Although he is competing for the starting strongside linebacker job, June is viewed by many as a player that could eventually succeed Brooks on the weak side.
“He’s really fast,” Gruden said of June. “You see why he’s really good in this scheme. He can play the outside linebacker spot with an effortless style. He’s got great familiarity with our defense, certainly, but he’s also got great athleticism. His legs are alive. He can run. I know he’ll hit. He’s had a knack for making plays. Whatever position you play him at, weakside or strongside, he’s going to be a guy that shows up where the ballcarrier is.”
June plans to take advantage of the reps he receives at the different linebacker spots because he believes it will make him that much better of a player.
“I’m getting different looks in different situations,” said June. “I’m trying to pretty much learn, be versatile and learn more than one position to speak and then being able to effectively execute in the same manner. So just getting that exposure and that experience and those reps and different things is always going to be good for me.”
Brooks, 34, was actually scheduled to be held out of several training camp practices anyway as part of the team’s plan to keep some of their veterans fresh.
In addition to Brooks, the Bucs held running back Michael Pittman and defensive end Greg Spires out of Saturday morning’s practice.
The one-a-day training camp regimen has paid off for wide receiver Joey Galloway, who at 35 years old is still Tampa Bay’s primary receiver. The Bucs hope this type of workout schedule will pay off for some of their other players this year.
“We have a creative plan that we’re putting to action,” said Gruden. “We did some things research-wise that we’re going to try to put into action. We’re going to try to earn the right to have a day off. There are some guys that are under the watch of our medical staff. These are guys that are going to need to lift properly during this time, need to stretch more properly and obviously guys that could use some more rest and rehab so that they can be more physical when they do practice. This is something these men have earned and that we’re hoping will work.”
BUCS MOVE AFTERNOON PRACTICE TO OMNI HOTEL The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved their Saturday afternoon practice from Disney's Wide World of Sports complex to the Omni Hotel in Orlando due to inclement weather.
The Bucs opened the first 10 minutes of practice to the media before closing it.
GALLOWAY OFF AND RUNNING Bucs wide receiver Joey Galloway left Saturday morning’s practice a few minutes early.
Galloway was excused due to dehydration and the fact that he has been given permission to leave camp and attend Arena Bowl XXI to watch the Columbus Destroyers battle the San Jose Sabercats on Sunday.
Perhaps catching 145 passes and scoring 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons makes Gruden feel better about his decision to allow Galloway to leave camp and watch is team compete for a championship.
“He has some cramping and he also was excused from the afternoon practice and he’s got to fly to – I let him fly to New Orleans,” Gruden said of Galloway, who is a senior executive partner of the Destroyers. He is the owner of the Columbus Destroyers. I would like somebody here to do their work and find out, maybe privately, what percentage of the Destroyers he owns. That is being investigated and I have had success. Maybe with the media’s help I can get a discreet answer.”
BUCS SIGN DT FRICK Tampa Bay made a roster move Saturday, signing defensive tackle Justin Frick. Frick originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent on May 3. He was released on July 22 before being re-signed on Saturday.
PADS COME ON SUNDAY Tampa Bay hasn’t sported pads since December, but that will change on Sunday morning.
After holding their first four practices in shorts, jerseys and helmets, the Bucs are scheduled to practice in full pads on Sunday morning.
According to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, it’s been a long time coming.
“I think we should put on pads,” said Gruden. “We’ve been in shorts for a long time. We had so many injuries last year that I don’t think we practiced a lot in pads. I think our guys are really excited about putting the pads on and getting down to business.”
One of the things Gruden has stressed during the offseason and training camp practices is the importance of being a physical football team. Come Sunday morning, there’s no doubt that Tampa Bay’s training camp practices will be taken up a notch in that department.
“We do need to be more physical,” said Gruden. “I think our players would attest to that. We have some guys that are without a doubt physical, but we need to have a collective physical show every play and everyday.
McCOWN RECEIVES MORE REPS Quarterback Luke McCown didn’t receive a lot of reps during either one of Tampa Bay’s practices on Friday.
But McCown, who missed most of last season with a major knee injury, saw quite a bit of action on Saturday morning.
It’s early, but Bucs head coach Jon Gruden evidently liked what he saw from McCown this morning.
“Luke missed last season,” said Gruden. “He was injured and when he did come back he was limited. You can see that he has athletic ability and can throw the ball.”
With McCown taking more reps, QB Chris Simms didn’t see a lot of action during the morning practice. However, Gruden cautioned people not to look into the distribution of reps at the quarterback position too much since he plans to change it up quite a bit in training camp.
“The quarterback rotation will be unique throughout this camp,” said Gruden. ‘You’re going to see a lot of Chris this afternoon and you’ll see less of somebody else.
“But Luke is a guy that has earned the reps. He took advantage of some of them today. Some of them he has to learn from, but I thought he did some good things.”
STOVALL STILL IMPRESSING The Buccaneers have quite a battle on their hands at the receiver position. Although Joey Galloway has established himself as an undisputed starter at the X (split-end) receiver position, the Z (flanker) job might be up for grabs.
Three players – Michael Clayton, Maurice Stovall and David Boston – have spent the offseason and the first two days of training camp making a case for themselves.
Although each of those players has made their fair share of plays, Stovall, who was Tampa Bay’s third-round draft pick in 2006, has used his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame and soft hands to stand out thus far.
“He’s done nothing but work,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of Stovall. “He’s got the work ethic of the legendary Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin. I’m not comparing him to those guys, but from a work ethic standpoint this guy is insane. He’s a great worker. He’s faster and he’s much more in shape than he’s ever been. He can move for a big guy. It’s a credit to him and what he’s all about. He’s going to make things really interesting.”
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