ALLEN, CINDRICH MEET TO DISCUSS GRIESE’S FUTURE WITH BUCS has learned that Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen met with Ralph Cindrich, the agent for Brian Griese, on Wednesday night to discuss restructuring the contract of the Bucs’ starting quarterback. Griese is due a $6 million roster bonus in March and is scheduled to have an $8.1 million salary cap value.

Because the Bucs are currently $14 million over the projected 2005 NFL salary cap, they will need Griese’s help to restructure his contract and clear up some valuable cap space for the upcoming free agency period.

Should Tampa Bay and Griese not come to terms on a new deal, look for the Bucs to part ways with their quarterback and pursue other options, such as starting third-year quarterback Chris Simms next year.

If Jon Gruden thought that his team’s problems with injuries ended with the conclusion of the 2004 NFL season – he was mistaken. Injuries have begun to take their toll on the Gruden-coached South squad in the 2005 Senior Bowl. Alabama left tackle Wesley Britt injured his leg in Wednesday morning’s practice and has been ruled out for Saturday’s game.

“Unfortunately, we lost our tackle, Britt, from Alabama, who has a slight, hairline fracture,” Gruden said. “It’s not a serious injury. He assured me that if he was playing in the Super Bowl that he would be ready to go. I said, ‘It is the Senior Bowl and we could use you.’ We’ll hold him out as more of a precautionary measure than anything.

“Hopefully, he’ll be ready to work out at the Combine. We’ll miss him. We were looking forward to working with him. He’s a great kid and he’s a big guy.”

Other injuries that have hit the South squad include Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers, Virginia Tech cornerback Eric Green and UAB wide receiver Roddy White, who all have hamstring injuries. Green and White have been ruled out for Saturday’s game, but Rogers has a 50-50 chance of playing.

Texas A&M wide receiver Terrence Murphy was sent home on Monday with a groin injury. Virginia guard Elton Brown attended the South team weigh in but did not participate this week due to an MCL sprain.

At his daily press conference, Pewter Report asked Gruden if he had the chance to catch any of the North squad practices this week either live or on videotape, and if any players caught his attention from that team.

“We have seen them practice. I was there today,” Gruden said. “The two defensive linemen at Iowa (DE Matt Roth and DT Jonathan Babineaux) have caught my attention. The middle linebacker at Nebraska (Barrett Ruud) is a football player. I’ll let you do the research on who these men are. I don’t want to reveal my names yet. The big tight end, (Alex) Smith at Stanford who has been impressive. Very impressive. There is another Clayton in this draft from Oklahoma (WR Mark Clayton). I think (Craig) Bragg from UCLA is a quality wide receiver. There is no question. There is a lot of guys on the North and it will be a real physical football game, I can assure you of that.”

Gruden seemed enamored with Clayton, who is Oklahoma’s all-time leading receiver with 221 catches for 3,247 yards and 31 touchdowns, and went on to describe his attributes in greater detail.

“I like the fact that he is quick and very thick. He’s put together. I think pound-for-pound he is going to be one of the strongest wideouts in this draft. I like the way he gets out of breaks. He almost appears to be double-jointed. He’s very loose. He gets out of his cuts at full speed and he has a knack for the big play. After the catch, the kid is pretty darn good.”

The South morning pratice, led by Gruden and the Buccaneers coaching staff, was broadcast on ESPN later in the afternoon, giving fans a chance to see what goes on at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Gruden was asked what he felt about being miked up for practice and having all of the ESPN cameras capture all the action and conversations.

“I don’t think (I liked it),” Gruden said. “I have no disrespect for the media, but when you are wiring players and wiring coaches … I don’t know. I see a lot of the print media members have their own TV shows. It’s an amazing process. I’d just as soon leave it private and keep some of your conversations that you are having with players behind the scenes. I think that’s where it belongs. But it’s good for television, and a lot of these young players need the exposure and it helps them prior to the draft. We’re here to help them and we’ll cooperate with them any way we can.”

If you liked this story, be sure to get the inside scoop and more detailed information on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ‘ offseason plans regarding roster changes, free agency and the NFL Draft with a Pewter Insider premium subscription. uccaneers merchandise in the world.

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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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