Steussie Speaks: Tampa Bay tackle Todd Steussie spoke with the media Tuesday for the first time since a “60 Minutes Wednesday” report aired in late March and accused Steussie and two of his former Carolina Panthers teammates — punter Todd Sauerbrun and center Jeff Mitchell — of having steroid prescriptions filled by a West Columbia, S.C. doctor who is now under investigation by federal authorities.
“I’m happy to be back practicing with the team,” said Steussie. “The Bucs have been very supportive through the situation I’ve been going through over the past couple of months. I’ve cooperated fully with both the federal and NFL investigations, which are both ongoing, so I’m not going to be able to talk any specifics.
“I do want to thank Coach Gruden and (general manager) Bruce Allen for standing behind me during this time. I also want to thank my family, my friends and my teammates. I’m looking forward to the NFL season coming up.”
The CBS report accused all three players of having prescriptions for testosterone cream filled within two weeks of Carolina’s appearance in the 2004 Super Bowl, and Steussie allegedly obtained 11 testosterone prescription refills over an eight-month period in ’04.
Despite CBS’s allegations, the Bucs are standing by Steussie, whom they signed to a six-year contract last year.
“We’ve been assured that he won’t face any sanctions,” said Allen. “I think it’s still an ongoing investigation, but he’s not the target.
“Our league has zero tolerance for steroids. I think you’ll find that once this all comes out, it’s not the issue it’s been made or has been presented as reported.”
Although he may not face sanctions from Tampa Bay or the NFL, Steussie, who was benched in favor of Kenyatta Walker in Week 5 last season, could become a salary cap casualty after June 1, although Allen said it was not safe to assume that such a notion would come to fruition.
“We still have to clear room to sign our rookies,” said Allen. “There’s only two ways to do that — restructuring contracts in some form or termination.
“Todd Steussie will play in the league this year, and the Bucs are in the league.”
Should Steussie, who is scheduled to have a $2.666 million cap value this year, remain with the Bucs, he said he plans on competing for a starting job on the Bucs’ offensive line.
“Last season was difficult for the entire organization,” said Steussie. “No one was happy with it, myself included. But it’s a new year and I’m looking forward to new opportunity. I think the competition is open, so I’m looking forward to being involved in that competition, and hopefully I can show my worth and be out on the field again.”
Bucs Sign RB Lewis: The Buccaneers signed rookie running back Jacque Lewis on Tuesday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The 5-foot-10, 192-pound Lewis is an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina, where he rushed for 1,746 yards and seven touchdowns during his collegiate career. He also hauled in 61 passes for 545 yards and five touchdowns in 43 career games (22 starts).
Lewis participated in Tampa Bay’s rookie mini-camp from April 9 to May 1. The Bucs now have nine running backs on their offseason roster.
Bucs Resume OTAs: The Bucs held an OTA workout on Tuesday and will hold two more on Wednesday and Thursday at One Buccaneer Place. Missing in action from Tuesday’s voluntary workout were a few players, including cornerback Ronde Barber, who attended Tampa Bay’s first three OTAs but was sidelined due to a minor knee injury, which he is still nursing, according to general manager Bruce Allen.
One of several rookies making his debut in front of his new veteran teammates was running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams.
“The first impression is important, so I made sure I woke up this morning and put my best foot forward,” said Williams.
Williams said he’s trying to adjust to the fast pace of the NFL.
“It’s a little different,” said Williams. “Out there today, I was kind of thinking before I reacted, and when you do that you tend to react slow and move slow out there. I had some nerves going, but I’m definitely looking forward to tomorrow.”
While Williams was learning the playbook, veterans like quarterback Brian Griese were attempting to learn new teammates’ names.
“When I came into camp there were like eight rookies, but when I walked in this morning there were like 25 new guys,” said Griese. “It seemed like we have a whole new arsenal, which is nice because we need help. I’m excited about a lot of these guys. I haven’t had a chance to meet all of them because today was our first day back, but they looked like they knew what they were doing.”
One of the rookies that Griese did have a chance to meet was Williams. So far, he’s been impressed with the Bucs’ first-round pick.
“I’m the guy that probably gets to watch him the least since my back is always to him,” Griese said of Williams “I got a chance to play with him a little bit today and he’s a good kid, which is the most important thing. He’ll probably come out and work hard, which will give him a chance to help us this year.”
Tampa Bay has 10 OTAs remaining and will hold a three-day mandatory mini-camp in late June.
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