Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden was pleased with the way his players performed on Saturday, which was the second of three rookie mini-camp workouts being held at One Buccaneer Place this weekend.

According to Gruden, some players stepped their game up a notch on Saturday.

“It was good, the effort was very good,” said Gruden. “We’ve got to pick up our execution in some places, but guys are working hard and progress is being made.

“There have been some pleasant surprises.”

Which players have done enough to catch Gruden’s eye over the past two days?

“We don’t want to do that quite yet, but we have seen some guys really catch our eye and do a good job through two practices,” said Gruden. “If they can sustain that there might be a move or two made to try and get them on our roster.”

Rod Flowers hasn’t played football since middle school, but that didn’t stop the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from offering the former Tennessee State basketball player a tryout contract at the team’s three-day rookie mini-camp.

“Some teams called me,” said Flowers, who played forward in basketball but is lining up as a tight end for the Bucs. “The Washington Redskins called me and it just opened up a door that I hadn’t even thought of.”

With former basketball players like Tony Gonzalez (Kansas City) and Antonio Gates (San Diego) excelling in the NFL as tight ends for their respective teams, the rest of the league is apparently in search of the next big thing, and the Bucs thought Flowers could be it.

“(Bucs director of pro personnel) Mark Dominik brought him to our attention,” Gruden said of Flowers, who is one of 20 try-out players on hand for this weekend’s rookie mini-camp. “The rise to fame between Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates — I think a lot of guys, including Marcus Pollard, who never played college football. I think everyone is looking for athletes, period. Not just football players. You’re looking for some qualities that you might be able to develop into a tight end. It’s hard to find nowadays.”

While he’s got great size, good hands and athletic ability, Flowers still has a long way to go in terms of becoming the next Gonzalez, Gates or Pollard. That was apparent when Gruden took the time to walk Flowers through a route during one particular drill on Saturday.

“He’s a raw prospect and he’s got a long way to go obviously to make the transition to become a full-time football player,” said Gruden. “He is working hard and he does have some athletic ability. It has been an interesting two days — he’s shown improvement.”

Can Flowers ultimately make the transition from the hardwood court to the grass?

“It’s just a matter of learning the plays and running the routes,” said Flowers. “Once you do that you’ll be okay.”

“I’m just trying to make the most of this opportunity.”

Tampa Bay may have found a remedy to its kicking problems.

Bucs K Todd France, who was allocated over the NFL Europe to play for the Hamburg Sea Devils, made three more field goals on Saturday en route to Hamburg’s 23-6 win over Cologne.

France is now 14-of-16 (87.5 percent) on field goal tries this spring. He will compete Matt Bryant for Tampa Bay’s kicker position in training camp and preseason.

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