The Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought several key members of their staff to Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., which began on Monday when the North and South squads held their first practices.
The list of Bucs reps in Mobile includes head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Muir, special teams coordinator Richard Bisaccia, defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, senior assistant Kevin Demoff, director of pro personnel Mark Dominik, personnel executive Doug Williams, assistant to head coach Paul Kelly, director of college scouting Dennis Hickey and scouts Jim Abrams, Reggie Cobb, Frank Dorazio, Dominic Green, Byron Kiefer, Tom Throckmorton, Seth Turner and personnel consultant Jim Gruden.
PewterReport.com shares the Bucs-related information it came by from Monday's practices in Mobile, Ala.
BUCS ACTIVELY SEARCHING FOR NEW COACHES
Two of the Bucs coaches that did not make the trip to Mobile, Ala. are quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett and senior assistant/offensive line Aaron Kromer.
The contracts for Hackett and Kromer are scheduled to expire at the end of January, and neither coach had re-signed with the Bucs as of Monday.
No one should really read into the fact that neither Hackett nor Kromer is in Mobile with the Bucs. After all, Bucs position coaches Richard Mann, Larry Coyer and Gus Bradley, among others, are not in Mobile, either.
The chance still exists that one or both coaches could return to Tampa Bay, although Pewter Report does not sense that will be the case based on what it has heard in Mobile.
After attending the afternoon practices on Monday, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin spent the evening and night meeting with several coaching candidates for Tampa Bay's vacant coaching positions, which include running backs coach, quarterbacks coach and assistant defensive backs coach.
While he would not name the specific coaching candidates, Gruden did not deny the Tampa Tribune's report that former Buffalo Bills head coach Mike Mularkey is one of the coaches the Bucs plan to interview while in Mobile for the Senior Bowl.
BUCS BUSY SCOUTING SENIOR BOWL PLAYERS
Tampa Bay's scouts were busy conducting interviews with dozens of the NFL prospects on hand at the Senior Bowl. The following players either talked with the Buccaneers on Monday or have already had interviews with the team.
DB Patrick Lee – Auburn
WR Jordy Nelson – Kansas State
LB Phillip Wheeler – Georgia Tech
DB DeJuan Tribble – Boston College
DB Tom Zbikowski Notre Dame
DL Darrell Robinson – Georgia Tech
WR Lionel Sweed – Texas
OL Oniel Cousins – UTEP
QB Colt Brennan – Hawaii
DT Marcus Harrison – Arkansas
OL Chris Williams – Vanderbilt
The Detroit Lions are starting to earn the nickname Buccaneers North as former Tampa Bay defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who is Detroit's head coach, and ex-Bucs linebackers coach Joe Barry, who is the Lions defensive coordinator, pilfered Tampa Bay assistant defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake over the weekend. After a two-year stint with the Bucs as the assistant to Greg Burns (2006) and Raheem Morris (2007), the 32-year old Lake gets the chance to become a full-fledged position coach in Detroit.
"Quit stealing Tampa Bay coaches!" Pewter Report said to Barry as he approached us for a handshake at the Senior Bowl headquarters hotel. Lake wasn't far behind and also received some well-deserved congratulations from the Pewter Report staff.
"That's the goal and that's why I'm in this business – to eventually become a defensive coordinator," Lake said. "The natural next step is to become a defensive backs coach and run my own room and put my own stamp on things. I had a great time with Raheem and Coach Kiffin and Coach Gruden and now it's time for me to take that next step and move on."
Lake got a big handshake and well wishes from Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who was walking by. Lake praised Kiffin for bringing him along and teaching him the Tampa 2 defense and all of its intricacies.
"I think he does a great job of going through the interview process and finally getting the right guy," Lake said. "He's done a great job of grooming us. He trains us to be defensive coordinators. That's what he does. We learn everything. We learn the D-line, the linebackers and how to scheme. It's been unbelievable.
"It's exciting. It's great to be a part of that whole Monte Kiffin [coaching] tree. Hopefully I'll have an assistant and I can bring him along and do for him what Raheem and Coach Kiffin did for me."
While there has been a great deal of speculating that Morris could be Kiffin's heir apparent as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator, Morris' contract expires after 2008 while Kiffin's isn't up until 2009 as it is believed he signed a two-year deal on Friday. Morris could end up taking a defensive coordinator position elsewhere after 2008 if his contract isn't extended.
Meanwhile, Lake's deal is up after two years in Detroit and he made no bones about the fact that he would like to return to Tampa Bay and be Kiffin's successor. Lake even went so far to tell Gruden that.
"I thanked Coach [Jon] Gruden for everything," Lake said. "He's awesome. And I told him, I'm going to come back in two years and be your defensive coordinator, so don't forget about me. That's my next step."
Plenty has been written about Morris' exploits and his coaching ability, but quite frankly, not enough has been written about Lake during his time in Tampa Bay. Lake shares a lot of Morris' traits and is widely respected at One Buccaneer Place by the coaches, front office and players. Watching how Lake, Morris and Gruden interacted with each other with hugs, smiles and laughs at the South practice on Monday, it's clear that Gruden is very fond of both young coaches.
While Morris might be the leader in the clubhouse for Kiffin's position once the iconic defensive coordinator decides to retire, it may in fact be Lake who winds up getting the position in two years. We'll have to wait and see. This is one fine coach who not enough Buccaneers fans know about.
By the way, now that Lake has moved to Detroit, his nickname is "Lake Michigan," which is very appropriate.
NEXT IN LINE?
Not only will the Buccaneers be looking for a new running backs coach and possibly a new quarterbacks coach and a new offensive line assistant, the team will also be looking for a new assistant defensive backs coach to replace Jimmy Lake. That is a big part of the reason why defensive backs coach Raheem Morris is in Mobile, Ala. as the only position coach that Tampa Bay brought to the Senior Bowl.
It is expected that Kiffin and Morris will interview some coaches this week to fill the vacancy created when Lake left for Detroit. However, the Buccaneers like to promote from within and two in-house candidates to assist Morris are defensive quality control coach Ejiro Evero, who just finished his first year in Tampa Bay after coaching at his alma mater, the University of California-Davis, and Dwayne Stukes, who is a coaches assistant.
Both coaches have a background in the secondary as Evero played safety at UC-Davis ad Stukes, who has spent a great deal of time with special teams coach Rich Bisaccia as well as some part time with Morris and Lake with the defensive backs, was a former safety with the Buccaneers. Stukes just finished his second season coaching in Tampa Bay.
Traditionally, Bucs position coaches like Morris do not attend the Senior Bowl practices, only the coordinators – Kiffin, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and offensive coordinator Bill Muir – are expected to attend. Tampa Bay wide receivers coach Richard Mann, tight ends coach Bob Casullo, defensive line coach Larry Coyer and linebackers coach Gus Bradley did not make the trip up to Mobile.
SMITH ON BUCS' RADAR SCREEN?
Pewter Report's sources in Cincinnati reveal that defensive end Justin Smith, the Bengals' first-round pick in 2001, may not be re-signed in 2008 after an underwhelming season in which he was designated as the team's franchise player. Smith recorded a career-low two sacks after posting eight sacks in 2006, which earned him the franchise tag.
Smith is a high-motor, full-effort player who does have a lot of tread on his tires after playing about 95 percent of the Bengals' snaps on defense over the last seven years. The 28-year old Smith has amassed 470 tackles and 43.5 sacks in his NFL career and may thrive in Tampa Bay where the Bucs rotate their defensive line regularly to keep them fresh throughout the game and the season.
Although he has never been a double-digit sacker, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder recorded nine sacks as a rookie in 2001 and eight sacks twice in ‘04 and '06. With Tampa Bay looking to improve its pass rush, adding a player like Smith to possibly replace older and very expensive defensive ends like Greg Spires or Kevin Carter could be an option in free agency.
NOTE OF THE DAY
Bucs personnel executive Doug Williams will hand the Lombardi Trophy to the winner of Super Bowl XXII in Arizona on Feb. 3. Williams was asked to do so by the NFL in honor of the 20th anniversary of Williams becoming the first African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
"We're going to hit free agency hard, and I mean hard," one high-ranking Bucs official told Pewter Report. With Tampa Bay making great strides in 2007 and becoming a playoff team, the feeling Pewter Report gets is that the Buccaneers will look to add a couple of expensive, impact free agents to load up for a possible Super Bowl run over the next year or two, much like Tampa Bay did in getting wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, quarterback Brad Johnson and defensive end Simeon Rice in 2000-01.
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