Copyright 2008

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Here are a few things that caught my attention this week:

FAB 1. I’ll admit it. I did a bit of lobbying for Michael Bennett to stay in Tampa Bay. I had several conversations with Bennett as the 2007 season wound down when he was frustrated with his lack of playing time. I wondered aloud how Bennett and head coach and offensive mastermind Jon Gruden could get together in the offseason and find ways to creatively use Bennett’s speed, using the OTAs as a laboratory.

Bennett would crack a smile, nod his head and say, ‘Yeah, I’ve thought about that, too.”

I pointed out the screen pass and wide receiver screen he scored touchdowns on after coming to Tampa Bay on October 16 in a trade with Kansas City, suggesting that those plays were created in-season for Bennett.

“Imagine how many other creative ways Gruden could get the ball in your hands to showcase your speed,” I said.

Bennett kept smiling, his imagination was running wild with visions of Spring 2008 in his mind, even though he was unhappy with his lack of opportunities in the Fall of 2007.

Did any of this have any impact on his decision to re-sign with the Buccaneers? I highly doubt it, although he did listen intently and agreed with what I said. But it is clear that Bennett was intrigued with Gruden’s creativity and the fact that he would be used not just as a running back, but also as a receiver. Getting the 5-foot-9, 207-pound Bennett on the perimeter and into open space allows him to use his sub-4.3 speed to juke and outrun opponents.

As former Bucs running backs coach Art Valero told me, Bennett came to the Bucs “halfway through the movie” last year and was unable to be fully integrated into the offense and gain Gruden’s complete trust. By now he has a much better understanding of Gruden’s offense and should have the entire playbook mastered by the end of the OTAs.

Gruden also has a much better feel for what Bennett can and cannot do in his offense after observing him as a Buccaneer in practice and in games for 11 weeks. Gruden shared with me that Bennett must improve his pass protection and must become a reliable receiver the way Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham are. The fact that Bennett dropped a catchable deep pass on a “Rail” route downfield in the second quarter in the loss to Jacksonville still irks Gruden.

But it’s no secret that Gruden loves speed and stressed over and over to me at the Senior Bowl that his offense must find more explosive playmakers. The fact that Bennett owns an 8.1-yard career receiving average and a 9.0 yards after catch average has to catch Gruden's attention. That compares very favorable to the numbers put up by Pittman (8.2 avg., 6.6 yards after catch), Philadelphia’s Brian Westbrook (9.2 avg., 8.4 yards after catch), Indianapolis’ Joseph Addai (8.5 avg., 8.1 yards after catch) and even San Diego’s LaDainain Tomlinson (7.4 avg., 8.6 yards after catch).

The key for Bennett to find his niche in this offense and become a regular contributor will be to really work on his pass protection skills. The reason why Gruden opted to have Graham on the field more than Bennett is because Graham is a solid protector.

In Gruden’s quarterback-driven offense, the last thing he wants to see happen is to lose Jeff Garcia for the season because a back couldn’t pick up a blitzing linebacker or safety. If Bennett can shore up in this area of his game he will see more time on the field in 2008.

There is more glamour to free agent signings when the player comes from another team. But make no mistake, the re-signing of Bennett is quite a significant addition to this Buccaneers team with only two weeks to go before the start of free agency on February 29.

FAB 2. I want to go on record as saying that I love – I mean absolutely love – the group of running backs in the 2008 NFL Draft. Many thought that 2005 was “the year of the running back” due to the fact that three were chosen in the top 5 – Auburn’s Ronnie Brown was the second overall pick by Miami, while Texas’ Cedric Benson went fourth overall to Chicago and Auburn’s Cadillac Williams became a Buccaneer a pick later. But I think the 2008 class of running backs could be even better.

After the trio of Brown, Benson and Williams went high in the first round, Cal’s J.J. Arrington (Arizona) and Louisville’s Eric Shelton (Carolina) were drafted in the second round. However, the best running back in the 2005 draft wound up being the first pick of the third round – Miami’s Frank Gore, who became a San Francisco 49er. Oklahoma State’s Vernand Morency (Green Bay) and Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Moats (Philadelphia) were also third-rounders, as was the infamous Ohio State rusher Maurice Clarett, who was the final pick of the first day by Denver.

But the best backs in the 2005 draft behind Gore wound up being drafted in the fourth round – not the first. Southern Illinois’ Brandon Jacobs (New York Giants) and Marion Barber (Dallas) have been much more productive than any of the backs taken in the first two rounds in 2005, and a fellow fourth-rounder out of Kansas State, Darren Sproles, made an impact in San Diego this year as a return specialist and a change-of-pace back.

Out of the running back class of 2005, Gore, Barber and Jacobs and studs, with Brown, Williams and Sproles making up the second tier of productive runners from that draft.

The crop of runners in 2008 will have at least six impact runners to match the class of 2005. Arkansas’ Darren McFadden is the headliner and is cross between Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and New Orleans’ Reggie Bush. There’s no way the Bucs sniff McFadden, a junior entry, as he is likely to be a top 10 pick.

Tampa Bay loves Illinois’ Rashard Mendenhall, who may be the next back off the board in the first round. Mendenhall, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound junior entry, rushed for 1,742 yards and 17 touchdowns on 262 carries (6.6 avg.), and hauled in 34 catches for 318 yards (9.6 avg.) and two scores. This guy is a physical, between-the-tackles, power runner like Earnest Graham, but with more speed and wiggle. He also has excellent vision. Mendenhall breaks tackles, always falls forward and has an excellent set of hands and is deadly on screen passes. He figures to be a top 15 pick and may be just out of the reach of the Buccaneers, who pick 20th overall in the first round, but would be an ideal fit in Tampa Bay’s version of the West Coast offense.

Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart will battle Mendenhall for the right to be the next back taken behind McFadden, and the Bucs are quite fond of him, too. The 5-foot-10, 230-pound junior has been knocked for a lack of speed and explosiveness in some on-line scouting reports. Huh? This is a guy who ripped off an 88-yard TD (Fresno State), a 71-yard TD (USF) and a 55-yard run (Stanford) in addition to a 64-yard kick return (Stanford) and a 47-yard kick return (Arizona State) in 2007. Stewart, who fought through a turf toe condition last year, rushed for 1,798 yards and 11 touchdowns on 280 carries (6.4 avg.) and caught 22 passes for 145 yards and two scores. He’s not the natural receiver Mendenhall is, but Stewart, whose game resembles Corey Dillon’s, has the ability to return kicks and take them the distance.

Felix Jones, who was McFadden’s backup at Arkansas, rushed for 1,199 yards and 11 touchdowns on 133 carries for a gaudy 9.0 average during his junior campaign. In 2006, Jones rushed for 1,225 yards and six scores on 154 carries (8.0 avg.), and scored three touchdowns on his 15 catches as a sophomore. There are some doubts as to whether Jones can be a feature back as he has never rushed for more than 160 carries in one season and was never asked to carry the load for the Razorbacks with McFadden around. Jones is a dangerous kick returner and has a career average of 28.2 yards to go along with four touchdowns. With an expected 40-yard dash time in the 4.4 range, Jones should be drafted near the end of the first round.

East Carolina’s Chris Johnson is a player I have been impressed with for months now. The 5-foot-10, 192-pounder may be the top senior running back in the 2008 NFL Draft class. After battling some injury and inconsistency throughout his Pirates career, Johnson responded with a tremendous senior season, rushing for 1,423 yards and 17 touchdowns on 236 carries (6.0 avg.), while catching 37 passes for 528 yards and six scores. In fact, Johnson’s receiving ability is the top aspect that appeals to Gruden. Tampa Bay’s offense needs backs that can catch the ball, and no other running back in this draft is a more accomplished receiver than Johnson, who has 125 career catches for 1,296 yards (10.4 avg.) and 10 touchdowns. The Pirates averaged a first down every time Johnson caught the ball. Johnson may be the fastest runner in the draft and is expected to clock in the 4.3 range at the NFL Scouting Combine. He is also an accomplished kick returner with a 23.6-yard average and two touchdowns. Johnson will likely be a second-round pick. Whether he is there when the Bucs are on the clock in the second round is unknown.

After these five players, Rutgers’ Ray Rice could be the next running back selected. The supposed knock on Rice is his lack of breakaway speed, but reports from the Parisi School of speed where he is training for the NFL Scouting Combine say that he is running close to a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. That would put him in the end of the second round. If he runs in the upper 4.4 or 4.5 range, he’ll likely be a third-round candidate. Rice rushed for 4,926 yards and 49 touchdowns in three years at Rutgers, including 2,012 yards, 24 TDs and a 5.3 average during his junior year. Rice had eight games in which he rushed for 195 yards or more in college. The 5-foot-9, 200-pound reminds me of Tiki Barber, although he is tougher between the tackles. There are some questions about Rice’s ability to catch the football, which is a staple trait for running backs that play in Gruden’s offense. Rice wasn’t asked to catch the ball at Rutgers, but that doesn’t mean he can’t. Bucs scouts will be watching Rice’s receiving ability closely at the NFL Scouting Combine and at Rice’s pro day.

I would be shocked if two or three of these runners don’t become Pro Bowlers in time, and I could see four or five of these backs becoming productive, 1,000-yard rushers for their respective NFL teams, barring injury. Which player or two may not pan out? If I knew that I would be an NFL scout. There is always a first-round player like Ki-Jana Carter, Rashaan Salaam, Tim Biakabutuka or Curtis Enis who tore it up in college, but just didn’t pan out in the pros.

I believe that all six of these backs could fit nicely into Gruden’s offense, but the thing to remember is that new running backs coach Rich Bisaccia is also the team’s special teams coordinator. Not only will he be looking for the right running back to fit Gruden’s system, he will be looking more closely at what a back will bring to special teams.

Players like Jones or Johnson may be more likely to become Buccaneers because of their speed and kick return ability. With Gruden feeling confident in having Graham carry the workload in 2008 and Tampa Bay re-signing Michael Bennett, the Bucs may be looking for a fast, young back to groom for the future and someone who can make an impact on special teams and as a situational back right away. Graham just turned 28 in January and Bennett will be 30 in August.

I can’t say for certain that the Bucs would or would not consider drafting a running back in the first round, but picking one up with the 20th overall pick is quite different than selecting one at No. 5 overall, which is where Williams was drafted in 2005.

But what the Bucs have to consider is what would happen if Williams was a non-factor in 2008 and Graham were to get hurt. Could Bennett and Kenneth Darby handle the load? Doubtful.

As I mentioned earlier, the strength of the 2005 draft class of running backs doesn’t lie in the underachieving first-rounders. It lies later in the draft. I think the 2008 class of runners will be different, but there are still plenty of capable backs later in the draft that could make an NFL impact at some point.

I love Georgia Tech running back Tashard Choice and he is definitely on the Bucs’ radar. West Virginia's Steve Slation, Tulane’s Matt Forte, UCF’s Kevin Smith and Texas’ Jamaal Charles are also potential high-caliber backs that will likely be available after the first two rounds. Kentucky’s Rafael Little, Cal’s Justin Forsett and Ole Miss’ BenJarvus Green-Ellis would be good late-round options for Tampa Bay, too.

Tampa Bay may end up signing Mewelde Moore or another running back in free agency, but in my opinion, the team would be wise to leave a roster spot open for one of 2008’s talented collegiate running backs.

FAB 3. When broke the news of special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia taking on the role of Tampa Bay’s running backs coach this week, the general reaction on message boards and on sports talk radio was a collective groan. Bisaccia is not the most popular coach with Buccaneers fans, but he is extremely well liked inside the building at One Buccaneer Place by the coaches and players.

I can’t understand why Bisaccia has a reputation among the fans for being a bad coach. He’s coached a Pro Bowl punter in Josh Bidwell, perhaps the best field goal kicker in team history in Matt Bryant, became the first special teams coach to field the unit to return a kickoff for a touchdown in team history and has developed Tampa Bay’s coverage teams into some of the league’s best.

Find me a special teams unit that had great punting and field goal kicking, great coverage teams and great return units. I’m not saying one didn’t exist last year, I’m just saying that one certainly doesn’t come to mind front and center immediately. It’s hard to get all three phases of the kicking game working at a high level at the same time over the course of an entire season.

When injuries hit, as they did the Buccaneers last year, the unit that gets hit the hardest is always special teams. In 2006, running back Earnest Graham was the team’s leading special teams tackler with 20 stops. In 2007, he got removed from special teams altogether in October once Cadillac Williams was lost for the season to a torn patellar tendon and Michael Pittman suffered a four week ankle injury. Losing Graham was a big blow to Bisaccia and Tampa Bay’s special teams.

Rookie safety Sabby Piscitelli had the makings of becoming a dominant force on special teams in the preseason. He broke his foot in a Week 3 win over St. Louis and was lost for the year in what was another hit to the Bucs’ special teams.

Even kicking game stars like Mark Jones and Tampa Bay’s special teams ace, Torrie Cox, got hurt last year and wound up on injured reserve. The player that stepped up to replace Cox as a gunner, Maurice Stovall, was also lost for the last two games due to a broken arm.

When core special teamers are lost from the lineup because they are needed to start or they wind up on injured reserve, Bisaccia must take a new arrival off the street or a player who has been elevated from the practice squad and quickly get them acclimated to special teams. Bisaccia was Pewter Report’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2006 and came close to winning the award again in 2007 if not for the stellar turnaround of Tampa Bay’s secondary under the guidance of Raheem Morris.

I happen to think Bisaccia is one heck of a coach and I can’t find anyone at One Buccaneer Place to disagree with me. Tampa Bay’s special teams players, a mix of offensive and defensive players that Bisaccia calls “wefense,” are crazy about the guy and play hard for him and get results. What else do you want from a coach?

Yes, there are rumors that Bisaccia wanted out three years ago to go to Notre Dame to have the chance to coach with his best friend, John Latina. General manager Bruce Allen denied him that opportunity because Bisaccia was under contract at the time. But Bisaccia has shown tremendous loyalty to Gruden and the Buccaneers organization, signing up for a third tour of duty with a multi-year contract back in January.

My only concern is that Bisaccia might have too much on his plate with both special teams and coaching Tampa Bay’s running backs. He has been able to get a great deal of assistance from the Bucs’ other position coaches to help out on special teams and that will have to continue. Dwayne Stukes helped Bisaccia on special teams last year and offensive quality control coach Tim Berbenich is expected to assist him with the team’s running backs.

But I’m not going to bet against Bisaccia and don't understand the senseless bashing he takes from the fans and some in the media. The guy is mentally tough as nails and that approach rubs off on his players. He was able to coach both running backs and special teams at Ole Miss (1999-2001), Clemson (1994-98) and South Carolina (1992-93) – on top of recruiting high school kids – during his college coaching days.

He already has a great rapport with Graham and fullbacks B.J. Askew and Bryon Storer from coaching them on special teams, and will undoubtedly get running backs Michael Bennett and Kenneth Darby to kick up their play on special teams a few notches.

Word has it that Bisaccia was been quite fond of Mewelde Moore from his days at Tulane. Moore, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent from the Minnesota Vikings, catches the ball exceptionally well and can also return punts and kicks. With the re-signing of Bennett, the Bucs may not be done at the running back position in free agency yet.

FAB 4. The demise of the Atlanta Falcons is continuing before our eyes. This is a bad franchise headed up by a foolish owner whose biggest blunder may have been plucking former general manager Rich McKay from Tampa Bay.

In the end, McKay wound up killing the Falcons’ salary cap the way he did with the Buccaneers on his way out of town – with overpriced contracts. In Atlanta, fool’s gold – in this case, Blank’s money – was given to quarterback Michael Vick, free agent bust linebacker Edgerton Hartwell and making overrated fullback Ovie Mughelli the highest-paid fullback in the NFL last year.

There have been other mistakes, such as trading away quarterback Matt Schaub, that have helped clip the Falcons’ wings, but those are the three biggest from a salary cap standpoint.

McKay deserved to be fired after 2007, but Blank, perhaps the least football savvy owner next to Washington’s Daniel Snyder (Jim Zorn?!), not only kept him on as team president he included him in the selection process of not only the team’s next head coach, but also had McKay assist in the process to find his own replacement at general manager. Unreal.

As long as Blank and McKay are running the Falcons, I feel very good about the chances of Tampa Bay dominating Atlanta for the foreseeable future. Perhaps Blank did the right thing in hiring New England’s Tom Dimitroff to be the Falcons’ G.M. Time will tell. But the salary cap damage and the questionable player acquisitions over the years will leave Atlanta reeling in the NFC South cellar for at least the next year or two, especially after Friday.

The Falcons have to get younger in order to get better and they had to part ways with several key starters and contributors to create the necessary salary cap room to get younger and better. Among the players that were released were former Pro Bowlers tight end Alge Crumpler and defensive tackle Rod Coleman, in addition to quarterback Byron Leftwich, cornerback Lewis Sanders and left tackle Wayne Gandy were also released.

The Falcons are lacking a proven playmaker at quarterback and are stuck with Joey Harrington unless the team can snag Boston College’s Matt Ryan in the first round.

At running back, 33-year old Warrick Dunn is the starter and backup Jerious Norwood hasn’t proven he can be a feature back in the NFL yet.

Roddy White is a keeper at wide receiver, but Atlanta’s other starter, 36-year old Joe Horn, has clearly lost a step. Former first-round pick Michael Jenkins hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Without Crumpler, the Falcons are left with unproven Dwayne Blakely and Martez Milner at tight end.

The best player along the offensive line is right tackle Todd Weiner, who will be 33 in September, and someone named Renardo Foster, a rookie out of Louisville, was Gandy’s backup last year and is the current starter at left tackle. Yikes.

On defense, the only real pass rush will come from defensive end John Abraham, who will face more double teams without Coleman in the middle of the line. Replacing Coleman at defensive tackle will be Jonathan Babineaux and Trey Lewis, who combined for three sacks last year.

Atlanta’s linebacking corps has a stud in Michael Boley, but Demorrio Williams is an unrestricted free agent and Keith Brooking will be 33 in October.

The Falcons’ secondary loses Sanders and has only DeAngelo Hall as a proven playmaker. The team got little impact from 34-year old Lawyer Milloy at safety in 2007.

Atlanta’s top two draft picks – defensive end Jamaal Anderson and cornerback Chris Houston – had disappointing seasons. Anderson failed to record a sack despite starting all 16 games, and Houston did not pick off a single pass despite 11 starts.

Could it be that the Falcons may actually be worse in 2008 than the 3-13 dirty rotten birds were in 2007? Yes, they could rival the 1-15 Miami Dolphins from a year ago.

FAB 5. Here are some things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:

• In 2004, Tampa Bay had a chance to make a run at defensive tackle Rod Coleman, a player both head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen drafted in the fifth round of the 1999 draft in Oakland, but they didn’t. Perhaps it was due to a lack of salary cap space or perhaps they were keen to the character concerns that Coleman had in Atlanta when he flipped his SUV after he had been drinking alcohol in 2004 and was arrested for disorderly conduct in 2005. Coleman missed several games in 2007 due to a boating accident in which he ruptured his right quadriceps. Coleman will be 32 in August and is coming off a season in which he recorded two sacks playing in only five games. After posting 23 sacks and seven forced fumbles in his first two seasons in Atlanta, Coleman’s production dipped to just six sacks and zero forced fumbles in 2006. Because Tennessee is expected to franchise defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, Green Bay’s Corey Williams is expected to fetch approximately $6 million per year in free agency and the defensive tackle class in the 2008 NFL Draft is weak after USC’s Sedrick Ellis and LSU’s Glenn Dorsey, Coleman has already drawn serious interest from a number of teams, including Tampa Bay. But for a player his age and with his declining production, the guess here is that the Buccaneers would only be interested in acquiring Coleman to platoon with Jovan Haye at under tackle and would be willing to pay him a fraction of the $5.9 million base salary he made in Atlanta last year. In other words, Coleman will likely go to another team that is willing to pay him more. Still, his inside pass rush on third downs would be helpful to Tampa Bay.

• Rod Coleman is one thing, but 30-year old tight end Alge Crumpler – the other Falcons star that was released on Friday – is quite another. Consider Tampa Bay very interested in his services. Like Coleman, Crumpler is receiving a lot of interest in the open market right now. But with Jon Gruden’s fascination with fast, pass-catching tight ends, Tampa Bay may be willing to make a run at signing Crumpler, who made $4.7 million in base salary last year in Atlanta. Despite owning a career 13.3 receiving average, Crumpler’s average dipped to 10.6 last year, which could be a sign that he is losing a step. However, Crumpler did haul in a 55-yard reception in 2007, his longest catch since a 63-yarder in 2003. The seven-year veteran also hauled in five touchdowns last year, so he isn’t losing his scoring touch. With Jerramy Stevens and Anthony Becht poised to hit free agency and Alex Smith unable to have a breakthrough season due to too many drops in 2007, adding Crumpler to the mix may be wise. Gruden was able to use two 30-something tight ends in Ken Dilger and Rickey Dudley to help him get the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in 2002. Crumpler is not the blocker that Becht is, but he is an upgrade over Smith in terms of being a well-rounded tight end that can block and catch. The combination of Crumpler and Smith would not allow opponents to simply target Smith the way they would when it was Smith and Becht on the field at the same time. Tampa Bay should make a serious run at Crumpler, who I’m sure would love the chance to play Atlanta twice per year.

• Don’t be alarmed by the fact that the Bucs will be heavily courting Bengals defensive end Justin Smith in free agency. Our sources in Cincinnati tell us that the reason why Smith recorded just two sacks in 2007 after posting 7.5 sacks the previous year was due to the fact that Robert Geathers, the bookend pass rusher opposite Smith, spent the first month of the season out of position at linebacker. That allowed opponents to concentrate on defending against Smith. The fact that Cincinnati lost nine games and only had two blow-out wins took away pass rushing opportunities for Smith and the Bengals as opponents were able to run the ball for all four quarters. Another reason is that Smith might be wearing down a bit at age 28. He hasn’t missed a start in the last six seasons and he has played about 95 percent of the snaps over that span. Smith’s production would likely increase in 2008 if he played less snaps in Larry Coyer’s heavy substitution rotation along the defensive line. A hard-working, high-energy veteran like Smith could replace Greg Spires and give Tampa Bay a nice mix of pass rushers off the edge along with Gaines Adams and Greg White. After toiling in Cincinnati for years and only making the playoffs once (a Wild Card loss to Pittsburgh in 2005), Smith, who was slapped with the franchise tag a year ago, may be ready to move on to a winning franchise like Tampa Bay.

• In hindsight, resting their starters and losing those last two games of the season may have helped Tampa Bay more in 2008 than hurt the team in 2007. The Bucs’ loss to New York in the Wild Card game had to do more with the fact that the Giants were a better football team (see postseason wins against Dallas, Green Bay and New England) than it had to do with the Bucs not having much momentum. Tampa Bay’s wide receiving corps was incredibly banged up down the stretch and if Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard were asked to play the last game and half at San Francisco and against Carolina, they may not have been physically able to go in the playoff contest. Remember, the Bucs out-gained the Giants 78 to minus-2 and out-scored them 7-0 in the first quarter, so the “rusty” argument doesn’t hold any weight. I’m not convinced that had the beat-up Bucs wound up 11-5 that it would have made much of a difference against the Giants. Instead, the 9-7 Bucs secured the 20th spot in the first round of the draft instead of the 27th had Tampa Bay finished 11-5. Young players such as quarterback Luke McCown, fullback Byron Storer, linebackers Quincy Black and Adam Hayward and others got some invaluable playing time as a result of Jon Gruden’s decision to rest some players. I liken it to the importance in college football of a team securing a bowl bid. Bowl eligible schools get an extra 17 practices to prepare for the bowl game, which essentially gives them two periods of spring practice. Most colleges use a couple of days of bowl practice to exclusively work their underclassmen to help aid in their development. Players like McCown and Black, who could be future starters for the Buccaneers, will benefit greatly from the time they received at the end of 2007 season in those six quarters of meaningless football.

• I would be surprised to see running back Michael Pittman return to the Buccaneers. The 33-year old Pittman, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on February 29, was the last offensive player remaining from the Bucs’ Super Bowl team from 2002. The fact that cornerback Brian Kelly has opted to buy himself out of the final year of his contract likely means his days as a Buccaneer are over. That leaves just linebacker Derrick Brooks, cornerback Ronde Barber, safety Jermaine Phillips, linebacker Ryan Nece and defensive end Greg Spires left from the Super Bowl squad, and Nece and Spires aren’t locks to make this year’s team. I really enjoyed covering Pittman and Kelly. Both guys were a pleasure to work with from a media standpoint and always gave great insight. My only wish is that Kelly had made himself more available to the media as he always had some interesting things to say. Pewter Report wishes nothing but the best for these two classy Buccaneers.

• In case you missed it on the message board, Pewter Report is looking for another full-time writer as our enterprise continues to grow. If you have a thorough knowledge of the Buccaneers and an education in mass communication-journalism or a background in professional writing, we would be interested in receiving your resume` and some writing samples. Please submit those to editor-in-chief Jim Flynn at and note that we will not accept phone call solicitations for the position. Not only will the ideal candidate get to contribute to and Pewter Report magazine, but also TV and radio appearances as well. I’ve been covering the Buccaneers professionally for almost 14 years now and have found this to be a very exciting and rewarding profession. If you have a passion for reporting and football, this could be the right career choice for you.

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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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