BRYANT, BIDWELL, CLAYTON, FAINE OUT FOR TITANS GAME The Buccaneers will be without the services of several key starters for the team’s preseason opener at Tennessee on Saturday. In addition to being without starting receivers Antonio Bryant (knee surgery) and Michael Clayton (hamstring) and kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring), punter Josh Bidwell has been added to the injury list with a sore hip.
Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said that center Jeff Faine (groin) and linebacker Angelo Crowell (hamstring) would also be out for Saturday’s game. Morris did say that tight end Jerramy Stevens, who missed practice on Wednesday due to rest, would play, in addition to Clifton Smith (hamstring), but that Smith would play running back and not return kicks or punts.
Morris indicated that players like wide receivers Kelly Campbell (quad) and Joel Filani (hamstring) will be game-time decisions.
MORRIS LIKES PHYSICAL PRESEASON OPPONENTS One of the themes that Morris has talked about this offseason is forging a tougher mental and physical football team. That’s why the Buccaneers have been pads on mostly an every day basis.
Part of learning how to be physical is playing physical opponents like Tennessee. The Bus will play the Titans in the preseason opener on the road this Saturday.
“We’ve got a great preseason, don’t we?” Morris said. “You talk about physical play. We’ll get a nice measure on offense playing against Tennessee and Jacksonville back-to-back. Then Miami comes here with Bill Parcells’ mentality. That’s pretty physical. When you talk about a physical preseason that’s exactly what you want. That’s what you like to see.”
The Bucs spent much of Wednesday’s practice preparing for the Titans offense and defense. Morris had Byron Leftwich, rookie Josh Freeman and fourth-string quarterback Josh Johnson working on the two-minute drill because either Leftwich or Freeman could be in at the end of the first half, while Johnson will be in at the end of the game.
“We had a little bit of two-minute there at the end,” Morris said. “That two-minute was to simulate the end of the half and possibly the end of the game to try to get realistic people who might be in there at the end of this week. This whole practice was a Tennessee preparation deal to get the guys ready for all the possible situations they’ll be involved with.”
BUCS LIKELY WON’T KEEP 4 QBs THIS YEAR Tampa Bay had the luxury of keeping four quarterbacks on its 53-man roster last year with Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown and Johnson, the team’s fifth-round pick in 2008. According to Morris, that won’t be the case in 2009 as the team will need to maximize its roster spots.
With Luke McCown and Leftwich battling for the starting job and Freeman being the team’s first-round pick this year, Johnson may be the odd man out as he has been getting fourth-string reps in practice.
“Honestly, I don’t see us [taking four quarterbacks],” Morris said. “I see ourselves keeping three, but I don’t want to rule anything out. Like I said before, I can only keep 53 [players]. If those four quarterbacks are the best guys on the unit, then I may have to break the rules. We’ve got to keep the guys on our team that we think will help us win.”
Morris said that he is most looking forward to seeing the team’s linebackers and quarterbacks in action at Tennessee.
“I’m anxious to see our quarterbacks in this battle,” Morris said. “Those guys are picking it up and understanding the system, being locked in and detailed. Who’s going to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball? Who’s going to hit someone in the face that they shouldn’t? Who’s going to have a positive play? Who’s going to do all those things? I’m pretty anxious to see all those things. I wouldn’t call it a concern.”
MORRIS DOESN’T WANT TO SEE BROOKS IN A SAINTS UNIFORM Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, who was released on February 25 as part of a youth movement in Tampa Bay, spent Wednesday working out in New Orleans with the Saints. After Wednesday's practice, Morris was asked about his thoughts about Brooks possibly becoming a division rival.
“Anytime you talk about stuff like that you’re talking about Joe Montana playing in Kansas City or Jerry Rice playing for Oakland,” Morris said. “You’re talking about Tony Dorsett playing for Denver. You’re talking about stuff nobody likes to see, but as you know, players like to play. I wish Derrick the best. He’ll be back here soon. He’ll always be a Buc. We want Derrick as a Buc. That’s my guy. What do you want me to tell you? Of course I don’t want to see him (as a Saint).”
CHANGE TO THURSDAY PRACTICE SCHEDULE The Buccaneers' morning practice for Thursday, August 13 at One Buc Place will now run from 10:20 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and is open to the public. The practice was supposed to be a special teams-only practice but will now be a full-team practice session.
And remember that Thursday afternoon's practice, which runs from 4:55-7:00 p.m., has been moved to Raymond James Stadium. The practice will be closed to the public but open in its entirety to the media.
The reason why the Buccaneers are practicing at the stadium is to do a dry run with the new coaching staff using team’s communications system. Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski will be up in the press box while defensive coordinator Jim Bates will be on the field.
“The whole training camp, I have been trying to figure out what head coaches do, so I have been simulating the whole time,” Morris said. “I have been walking around evaluating and putting my little jabs in there. Throwing my little snide remarks or my little comments of love, whatever they are. And tomorrow night will be no different. We will come out, have coaches in the box, coaches on the field and we will go through our pre-game ceremony. I wouldn’t say go as far as go inside the locker room and run back out, but we have to get a feel for that. I have to get a feel for when I have to step in and maybe say something to Jag [Jeff Jagodzinski] or say something to [Jim] Bates and know about that or whatever the case may be. It is hard to switch back and forth and I will try to simulate the best I can or maybe I will move over every series or every third play or whatever the case may be so I can simulate listening to the calls and putting in my situational input. I might throw a few red flags just to throw them.”