After Thursday’s OTA (organized team activity) Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris said nothing to reject’s report regarding starting left guard Arron Sears not being medically cleared to practice and his absence from the voluntary OTAs since the mini-camp in early April, and confirmed that Sears is dealing with a matter that he labeled “personal and private.”

“Obviously, we are all concerned about Arron,” Morris said. “Realistically, it’s a private matter. I would respect Arron enough not to even talk about that. I’ll leave it as concerned and as a private matter.”

When asked if the injury was potentially career-threatening as Pewter Report stated in its article, Morris said, “Again, it’s more than likely a private matter and just like anybody here I wouldn’t talk about their private matter.”

Morris did not differentiate whether Sears’ issues or medical or personal, saying, “Again, it’s private. When you talk about those things you kind of shy away and leave it alone. Just be concerned – like we all are.”

When asked if he expected Sears back by the mandatory mini-camp, which is in two weeks, Morris said, “I’m very hopeful, but it’s private and (we’re) concerned.”

Bucs right guard Davin Joseph did not shed any new light on Sears’ situation.

“Whatever he’s going through … right now I’m just worried about the guys that are hear right now,” Joseph said. “I’m here every day working hard and I’m sure he will join us whenever he gets right.”

When asked if Joseph had talked to Sears, he said, “That’s between me and him. He has his personal life. He has the right to his personal life.”

Pewter Report has reported that Sears has suffered multiple concussions and that his absences may be related to issues stemming from post-concussion syndrome.

One of the players Morris praised on Thursday after the OTA practice was Jimmy Wilkerson, who has emerged as the starting left defensive end. Wilkerson is working with his backup, Kyle Moore, who is the team’s fourth-round draft pick, at left end in addition to defensive tackle.

“You can’t say enough positive things about Jimmy Wilkerson and what he has done since he’s been here. He’s been a hard, go-get ‘em worker in everything he’s asked to do since he’s been here – special teams, left end, inside rusher,” Morris said. “He’s helping out our young guy, Kyle Moore. I see him pushing him every day. I see them racing on the get-off drill. He’s pulling the rookie and trying to tell him, ‘I’m kicking your butt.’ The rookie is trying to get there and he’s claiming he won one, but he didn’t and Jimmy is letting him know about it. When you’ve got guys on your team like that, that’s exactly what you want. Those are the kind of guys you want around your young guys. I love it.”

Wide receiver Dexter Jackson, Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in 2008, was a bust as a rookie, failing to keep the punt and kick return duties halfway through his rookie season and failing to see any real action on offense. Morris has seen Jackson make some progress during the OTAs, but was cautious in his praise.

“I don’t know if it’s at the progression I want to see him progress at, Dexter’s got to progress at his own pace,” Morris said. “I told you guys last week, he’s starting to show signs. He’s doing some good things. You’re not really going to know about Dexter until we get to the pads, to the field and until we get across the street to the stadium and helmets are on and chinstraps are buckled. And we’ll see where Dexter is. Right now, I can’t complain about one thing Dexter is doing.”

The biggest question regarding Jackson is his willingness to get physical. Jackson earned a reputation for avoiding contact as a rookie, slipping and sliding down to the ground on returns last year instead of taking hits or fighting for yardage.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted to get bigger and tougher in the middle of their defense, which is why they spent a third-round pick on 310-pound Texas DT Roy Miller this year. Miller had an impressive rookie mini-camp, but then suffered a leg injury during his first set of OTAs.

Morris has noticed how Miller has handled that situation and gave him kudos today in the media huddle.

“What Roy Miller has done is he came here, he kind of got tweaked and he fought through it,” Morris said. “So you’ve seen him fight through an injury – a little one – but an injury. You’ve seen the toughness in the kid and you’ve seen him develop character. What he’s done this week is practice hard. He’s driving the bus from the bottom up, which we always talk about here.”

Miller looked good on Thursday and showed no lingering effects from injury. He was running with the second- and third-string units at defensive tackle.

Morris was scheduled to leave Tampa after practice on Thursday to fly up to Irvington, New Jersey where his hometown is recognizing Friday as “Raheem Morris Day.” When asked about how he felt by that honor, the usually loquacious Morris was almost speechless.

“I really don’t know,” Morris said. “I know it’s going on and I’m going out there. I’m sure I’ll have some family out there. I don’t know if I have any more friends in Irvington – nah, I’m just joking. But I’m going to go see the family. I’m really fired up to see the family and some of my friends I haven’t seen in a while. I’m fired up.”

Morris did admit that the honor was pretty cool for a 32-year old NFL rookie head coach.

“Everything since January 16 has been flattering,” Morris said. “You have to remain humble. There are a lot of people in Irvington who helped me get to where I am now. Those guys deserve some kudos too, and when I get a chance to see those guys and be around those guys, it’s awesome.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are encouraged to bring their Bucs and NFL-related questions to the Chat Session, which will be held on Friday at 1:00 p.m. ET.

The live chat session, which will be hosted by Pewter Report Bucs beat writer Charlie Campbell and Scott Reynolds, is for Pewter Insider subscribers only and will be username and password protected.

If you're not already a Pewter Insider subscriber, you can become one today by clicking here:


To access the Chat Room, click here.

To register for the chat room, simply click the Sign Up button on the chat page. Then you will need to register a username and a password. Once you've done that, you will be able to access the chat room that is called Chat. This chat room won't be created until Friday.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at:
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