Copyright 2007

Earlier in the week, asked Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden if he would implement the shotgun formation for the North squad this week.

At that time, Gruden said no, citing the fact that he wanted to get his quarterbacks acclimated to taking snaps from under center, which is something they’ll be asked to do quite often at the pro level.

Well, after further review, Gruden might have changed his mind.

North squad quarterbacks Troy Smith (Ohio State), Tyler Palko (Pittsburgh) and Drew Stanton (Michigan State) each have had trouble with the quarterback/center exchange all week long. All three quarterbacks are used to operating out of offenses that use the shotgun formation, which is why they’re having some trouble taking snaps from under center. Gruden’s offense doesn’t use the shotgun formation, although the Bucs’ head coach has suggested he will implement it for the 2007 season.

As a result, there have been several botched snaps that have led to fumbles in practice. In fact, Gruden suggested on Thursday that he was changing his mind and was going to implement the shotgun in order to help his quarterbacks and players better showcase their talents for NFL scouts, coaches and executives.

And don’t think San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan’s South team isn’t having trouble with the quarterback/center exchange. They have, too, but it’s unclear whether Nolan plans to use the shotgun in Saturday’s game.

BUCS CONTINUE TO INTERVIEW PLAYERS has been reporting throughout the week which players have interviewed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

We’ve since learned of several other players that have interviewed with the Bucs.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bucs have interviewed Virginia Tech defensive back Aaron Rouse. The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Rouse is an intriguing prospect and has had a solid week of practice. The safety doesn’t exactly fit the prototype size for a Tampa Bay defensive back, with Juran Bolden being the exception, but Rouse turns his hips and plays the ball exceptionally well for a player of his size. Rouse told Pewter Report that he’d love to play for the Bucs and defensive backs coach Raheem Morris. The Bucs might share a mutual interest as they recently interviewed him.

The Bucs also recently interviewed Michigan cornerback Leon Hall. Hall (5-11, 195) has had a decent week of practice, although he struggled at times with fades thrown to the corner of the end zone. The Bucs would like to see Hall play well on Saturday since he’s been somewhat inconsistent in practice.

Perhaps the player that has caught the Bucs’ eye the most besides Nebraska defensive end Adam Carriker has been Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye. Okoye (6-2, 312) is mature behind his years, and believe it or not, he’s only 19 years old. Okoye is a little bigger than Tampa Bay’s prototype under tackle, but he gets off of the ball extremely quickly and has the speed to play the three technique for the Buccaneers. Okoye has piqued Tampa Bay’s interest, evidenced by the fact that Bucs head coach Jon Gruden talked with him as the two had dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Mobile earlier in the week.

Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny (6-2, 230) and Ohio State defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock (6-3, 310) have also interviewed with the Buccaneers.

On the offensive side of the ball, Notre Dame wide receiver Rhema McKnight turned a lot of heads during Thursday morning’s practice. McKnight (6-1, 212) made some spectacular catches, but some scouts are concerned with McKnight’s inconsistent play. As one scout put it, “The concern you have with [McKnight] is one play he wows you and the next play you’re saying, ‘What the hell was that?’”

The 2007 Under Armour Senior Bowl will kick off at 4:00 p.m. at Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The game will be televised by NFL Network.

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