There was a familiar face at the Buccaneers morning training camp practice on Sunday morning in the form of former linebacker Shelton Quarles, who was a special guest of the team.
Quarles, who was released during the offseason due to a failed physical, was invited to training camp by head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen and was seen talking and joking around with many of his former teammates.
Quarles built a special bond with his teammates and the city of Tampa during his nine-year career with the Bucs. Quarles began his career with Tampa Bay as a special teams player and eventually became an impact starter on a Bucs defense that was ranked in the top 10 for nine straight seasons and was a part of the 2002 Super Bowl championship team.
“I talked to Shelton last week or two weeks ago and invited him to training camp,” Gruden said. “There’s one guy who does like football, and it’s good to see him. That’s about all I have on that front.”
CARTER GLAD TO BE A BUC Twelve-year veteran defensive end Kevin Carter has played in different defensive schemes and accomplished a lot in his career. So when he became a free agent at the end of the 2006 season he had the option to play in whatever system he wanted to. The decision was an easy one for Carter and he didn’t even have to move his family out of the state.
After two productive seasons with the Miami Dolphins playing in a 3-4 scheme, Carter signed a four-year, $25 million contract to move just north of South Beach to Tampa and play for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Carter has always enjoyed watching the vaunted Tampa 2 defense on film and now has the opportunity to make his mark on the defense.
“I just want to play because I enjoy the game. It’s not about money, it’s about opportunity,” Carter said. “I came here because I like this defense, like Coach Gruden and Monte Kiffin. I love his scheme and I’ve always admired it from afar and I saw the opportunity to be a part of a great defense and jumped at it.”
Carter brings stability to the Bucs defense as he has yet to miss a game during his 12-year career in the NFL. It’s very rare to see a defensive lineman remain healthy and in the starting lineup for every game. Carter has racked up 697 tackles and has recorded 97.5 sacks over his career. He also brings versatility to the defensive line as he can play defensive end and defensive tackle.
“I’m blessed and thankful. I live a moderate life off the field and I think that definitely helps as well. I have a 6-year-old son, my son Zion, he’s my focus and he’s my life he and my wife,” Carter said. “He, my wife and my extended family are what I devote my time to when I’m not playing football. Training and trying to take care of my body, prepare going out there everyday training hard, hit hard, run and play. You have to go out there and give a lot of effort, but you have to do it the right way and you have to take care of yourself.”
SIMMS STILL INCONSISTENT Chris Simms has been as up and down in the first three days of practice as a roller coaster. Sometimes he looks good throwing the ball and sometimes it seems as though he’s forgotten how to throw a football. But when asking Simms or Gruden about his health, they’re both in agreement that Simms is healthy.
“He’s healthy,” Gruden said. “He would be out here playing if he wasn’t healthy. He’s got to pick up his play. That’s the big thing. I’m not going to address the health thing anymore. He’s had a serious injury. He’s had other injuries that are well-documented. But he’s healthy; he would be practicing if he wasn’t.”
Simms admits that he’s not where he was before he got hurt, but he denies any thought that he’s not healthy.
“I feel real good and I’ve been throwing the ball a lot better,” Simms said. “I don’t feel like I am where I was before I got hurt last season, I don’t feel like that yet. I’m just going to continue to work and I know it’s going to come.”
BOSTON CATCHING ON WITH OFFENSE While some players seemed a step slower with the addition of pads in Sunday morning’s practice, wide receiver David Boston continued his impressive performance in training camp. Boston made a couple of nice catches during the morning practice and is making a strong case for a spot in the receiving corps.
With Joey Galloway seemingly the only wide receiver with a secure spot in the offense, Boston is battling with Michael Clayton, Maurice Stovall and Ike Hilliard for playing time. One person who has been impressed with what Boston has done so far in training camp is Gruden.
“He did look pretty good,” Gruden said. “He was a superstar in this league when healthy. I’m not going to say he’s back yet, but if today and yesterday and the day before and the last three months are any indication, he’s closing in on coming back and making a name for himself again.”
TAKING AN AFTERNOON BREAK After sporting pads for the first time this training camp on Sunday morning, 11 players were not on the field for the Bucs during the afternoon practice on Sunday.
The 11 players – Michael Pittman, Jerramy Stevens, John Wade, Dan Buenning, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, Jeff Garcia, Aaron Sears, Greg Spiers, Mike Alstott and Brian Kelly – were excused from the practice. All 11 players were seen jogging out to the 11-on-11 drills toward the end of practice.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS Wide receiver Joey Galloway was excused from both practices on Sunday as he was attending Arena Bowl XXI as the Columbus Destroyers battled the San Jose Saber Cats.
Galloway, who is a part owner of the Columbus Destroyers, wasn’t able to bask in the glory of a championship as the Destroyers lost 55-33 to San Jose.
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