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Here are some things that caught my attention this week:
FAB 1. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offseason really starts in May, not January. In January all of the free agent and draft discussion-rumors-speculation begins in earnest at the Senior Bowl and it picks up steam in February at the NFL Scouting Combine. March officially kicks off free agency and pro days on college campuses. And, of course, April means the NFL Draft and the second wind of free agency after the market settles down.
July is when people starting getting excited about training camp, which takes place later in that month. But what the heck happens in the months of May and June? That’s the real offseason for the NFL as far as I’m concerned. The only thing going on are some OTA days and a mandatory mini-camp. That’s why you will see Bucs stories in the newspapers trickle in every once in awhile and usually contain nothing but profiles on a couple of the new players.
But not at PewterReport.com. We won’t subject our Pewter Insiders to such cruel, harsh treatment. Pewter Report has been working overtime to dig up some fresh, juicy inside scoop to get you, the fanatical Bucs fan who wishes the first day of training camp was tomorrow, through the real NFL offseason.
It’s been awhile since my last SR’s Fab Five, and for that I must once again ask you for your forgiveness. I’ve been putting together our 72-page Post-Draft Issue, which is the biggest Post-Draft Issue we’ve ever done. Keep in mind that in the meantime I did a podcast on Saturday night after the first day of the draft while Jim Flynn was off being a TV star on the Bay News 9 Sports Connection.
I also contributed to the rookie mini-camp coverage with a couple of PI analysis articles a week ago, and took part in the PI chat on Tuesday, so don’t go looking for me on a milk carton. I haven’t disappeared.
You may ask why it takes so long to do the Post-Draft Issue when the draft was two weeks ago. Good question. Well, the basis for the issue is what the Bucs do in the NFL Draft, so neither I nor Flynn can really write a single word for the issue until April 28. Then we have the Gaines Adams press conference the day after the draft, multiple media appearances the next week to discuss the Bucs’ draft, followed by the rookie mini-camp the weekend after the draft.
We also have to spend time conversing with our multiple sources at One Buc Place to find out what is going on behind the scenes. Don’t think our phone was ringing off the hook with our sources wanting to spill their guts to Pewter Report about the draft on the day after. It doesn’t work that way. Wish it did.
But we think that there is value in waiting to put the Post-Draft Issue out after the rookie mini-camp because it gives us a look at what these players look like and how they move. It also gives us a chance to hear from the scouts, coaches and players themselves for that little thing we like to call inside scoop.
So where do I start? Well, let’s talk about a player I think may be the most intriguing out of the draft – linebacker Quincy Black, who was the Bucs’ third-round pick. I went back and watched some film on him again this past weekend. I have a lot more New Mexico games from 2005 than I did from 2006 because the Lobos were a better team two years ago with running back DonTrell Moore, who was one of my favorite college running backs, and wide receiver Hank Baskett, who was one of my favorite college receivers.
I started by watching New Mexico’s win at Utah from 2005. This was the game that really put Black on my radar screen and made me want to put him as a Bucs’ Best Bet at linebacker (we had him as a second-day Bucs’ Best Bet because we thought he was a fourth-rounder instead of a third-rounder, but we’ll still take credit for nailing Black, along with Gaines Adams, who was a Bucs’ Best Bet at defensive end and featured prominently throughout our Bucs Draft Preview, and Sabby Piscitelli, who was in Pewter Report’s Mock Draft).
Black kicked things off in that game by making a one-handed interception and returning the pick 31 yards for a touchdown. That play reminded me of Derrick Brooks in his younger days. Actually, it reminded me exactly of Shelton Quarles’ interception return for a touchdown at Cincinnati in 2002. Same spot on the field and roughly the same distance to cover for the score.
Black either lined up on the right side of the defensive line as a stand-up blitzer/pass rusher or as a deep linebacker/free safety. I guess it’s that “Lobo” linebacker spot they call it at New Mexico. There were a couple of plays where he lined up as more of a conventional middle linebacker against Utah, but I mean only a couple.
From the tape I watched – mostly from 2005 – I saw more of the same in other games in terms of his alignment. Black seemed to be equally comfortable rushing the passer and dropping in pass coverage. He is awesome in pursuit and always hustles to the ball, even if the ballcarrier is 15 yards downfield. Black never gives up on a play.
The question I have regarding Black is whether he can stand in between the guards and be stout in the middle, shedding trapping linemen and taking on 230-pound running backs head on. I’m comfortable with his sideline-to-sideline speed and his pass coverage. It’s just stuffing the interior running plays that come right at him that concern me.
It hasn’t been talked about a lot at One Buc Place, but I get the sense that the Bucs feel like Barrett Ruud is better and faster moving forward towards the line of scrimmage than he is moving backwards and dropping into coverage. I’m not talking about shallow drops like Cover 3. I’m talking about “the” deep drop a middle linebacker (Mike) has to make in the Cover 2. The deep middle. Mike in the middle as the coaches at One Buc Place call it.
I just wonder if Black shows enough promise in the middle and can wrestle the starting spot away from Ruud that Ruud ends up starting elsewhere. The team is certainly fired up about Adams, and everyone thinks the Bucs got some gems in second-rounders Arron Sears, a left guard, and Piscitelli. But the real buzz coming out of the rookie mini-camp was about Black, who had two picks in team drills during the three-day affair the weekend after the draft.
FAB 2. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Buccaneers will be using the 3-4 defense with greater regularity during the 2007 season. Pewter Report was the only media outlet last year to recognize that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin used the 3-4 occasionally to give opposing offenses a different look and to get linebacker Jamie Winborn on the field with Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles and Ryan Nece.
Yes, the Tampa 2 is alive and well at One Buccaneer Place, but Kiffin always tries to stay on the cutting edge defensively. One step ahead of the curve, if you will.
Take a look at Tampa Bay’s personnel acquisitions this year. It released middle linebacker Shelton Quarles and signed outside linebacker Cato June. The Bucs also signed Patrick Chukwurah, a 250-pound athlete who can play linebacker and defensive end. Then the team drafted two more linebackers – Quincy Black and Adam Hayward –both of whom are expected to make the team in 2007.
In my Buccaneer Blitz column in the April issue of Pewter Report, I wrote about how the acquisition of June, Chukwurah and Kevin Carter, a defensive tackle who can also play defensive end in a 3-4, gives the Buccaneers defense a tremendous amount of position flexibility. More than one source at One Buc Place said that column was spot on.
With so many interchangeable parts on defense and the fact that Pewter Report was the only media outlet to notice that both Black and Hayward broke away from linebacker drills to join the defensive linemen in pass rush drills during the rookie mini-camp is a clear indication that the 3-4 will be in play in 2007.
Need more proof? How about the fact that Black and Hayward each spent a year playing defensive end in college and are natural pass rushers. How about the fact that new defensive line coach Larry Coyer has Kiffin’s ear and used some real exotic blitzes with three-man fronts and even two-man fronts in Denver on occasion when he was a defensive coordinator? Or how about the fact that Kiffin disciple and new Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is retaining defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and marrying LeBeau’s zone blitzing 3-4 scheme with his own brand of Tampa 2?
Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick, defensive end Gaines Adams, is so fast and proficient at dropping into coverage in zone blitz schemes that even his talents could be used occasionally as a stand-up, pass-rushing outside linebacker.
The final piece of evidence that Kiffin and Coyer may deploy the 3-4 defense a bit more in 2007 is the fact that Tampa Bay is so consumed with upgrading its pressure on opposing quarterbacks and increasing its sack total that the 3-4 would give the team more elaborate ways to disguise where the blitz is coming from. Throw in the fact that for the first time ever that the team’s rookie mini-camp was closed for all but 40 minutes a day and that the media didn’t get to watch any team offense and defense installation periods and offense and defense drills. Ask the players and coaches if the Bucs will be running more 3-4 defense this year and all you get are “maybes” and “possiblies.”
That’s enough circumstantial evidence there to build a case for using the 3-4 defense more often in 2007 in my mind. The beauty is that Kiffin has the personnel that can line up in a 4-3 and then shift to a 3-4 defense right before the snap to create utter confusion and chaos for the offense, just like Bill Belichick does up in New England.
I get the feeling that the Bucs defense will be back in 2007. The sacks will be back in 2007, and this defense – with several fresh new faces – will be fun to watch in 2007.
FAB 3. If you have read the recent “Desperate Measures For A Desperate Team” column in the Tampa Tribune you’ve probably scratched your head over that one. I’ve heard from several team sources that have gotten a good laugh over it.
First of all, are the Buccaneers – meaning chief decision-makers Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen – desperate? Yes. They likely have to win eight games or more in 2007 in order to see the final year of their contracts in 2008. But the column misses the mark by a wide margin.
All 32 teams would be considered desperate if they used the criteria laid out in this column. I mean the Bucs have to be desperate if they added the likes of the dastardly defensive end, Gaines Adams, who once tried to smoking marijuana in high school and considered that phase in his life to be “experimental.”
There is no evidence that Adams failed a drug test at Clemson or at the NFL Scouting Combine. He cannot be considered a drug user, only someone who was honest enough to admit a past mistake.
I’m guessing that over half – that’s right, over half – of the Buccaneers players have tried or experimented with smoking pot before. They all attended college and people who experiment with pot typically do so in high school or college. I certainly don’t condone smoking pot, which is illegal. It’s wrong. But I’m not going to hold it against someone who tried it experimentally as a wayward youth.
To say the Bucs were “desperate” to take Adams is, quite frankly, character assassination. If I were Adams, my first sack in Tampa Bay would be to nail the author of the column. Seriously.
The column goes on to probe and prod the Buccaneers for drafting another villainous character in Syracuse safety Tanard Jackson. From the accounts that I’ve read, Jackson was trying to break up a fight, which could be considered an admirable deed, between Syracuse football players and students. Then he got stabbed.
I’ll repeat that again for clarification. He got stabbed. He didn’t stab anybody. Jackson got stabbed. That means he was a victim. I’m sure he was no angel in the altercation and might have done something provocative to get stabbed, or it could have been that the knife was meant for someone else. Nevertheless, Jackson was the stabbee – not the stabber.
I don’t know how that qualifies him as a bad character, though. He had an incident in which he was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jackson missed one game due to the stabbing, but there was no pattern of bad behavior at Syracuse. He was a three-year starter, who was briefly suspended last spring for conduct detrimental to the team. That term could literally mean anything, but it apparently wasn’t severe enough for him to miss a game in the fall of 2006.
I’m a pretty good judge of character and with the time I spent with Jackson at the rookie mini-camp he made a very good first impression on me. He was very intelligent, very well spoken, very humble and polite. Certainly not a cocky, thuggish type of player who would be the type to go out and pick fights and cause trouble. To say the Bucs were desperate to draft Jackson is off the mark. Maybe not as off the mark as lumping Adams into this discussion, but nonetheless, it is off the mark.
The third evildoer the “Desperate” column throws into the mix is tight end Jerramy Stevens. Stevens has had his share of problems due to alcohol. All the trouble he’s gotten in with the Seattle Seahawks has been alcohol-related and off the field in nature.
The Seahawks players and coaches that the Bucs spoke with said that Stevens was actually a model teammate who was well liked in the locker room. Was he a jerk at his condominium complex? That is the picture that has been painted by published reports in Seattle.
Tampa Bay is clearly taking a chance on Stevens, and I’m not about to defend the move. He might be a good football player with great size and speed, but as a soon-to-be Tampa resident, his character is as questionable as his hands. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him good. That’s what the Bucs are counting on.
It has been well documented that Stevens is on his last rope. He signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with no signing bonus that is virtually risk-free. If he so much sneezes the wrong way, the Bucs can cut him.
He has Darrell Russell’s leash around his neck. It’s a short leash and the Bucs aren’t afraid to yank it as they were when the 325-pound defensive tackle strayed from his promises made to the Bucs’ front office and he allegedly consumed alcohol when he was strictly forbidden to do so. Tampa Bay promptly cut Russell prior to training camp in 2004, even though they had penciled him in to start that season.
Stevens might have a similar provision in his deal with the Bucs and Tampa Bay won’t hesitate to cut him if Stevens screws up. That, to me, is not desperate. What would be a sign of desperation would be if he screwed up, but wasn’t released.
Okay, so how exactly are the Bucs desperate? The coaching staff will do anything necessary to win this year, even if it means sitting fan favorites and Tampa legends Mike Alstott or Derrick Brooks. No idol is sacred this year.
If Brooks isn’t one of the three best linebackers on the team this year, he won’t be on the field. If Alstott isn’t clearly better than newcomer B.J. Askew, Alstott will be watching the game from the sidelines, possibly on the inactive list. Fans won’t like it, but that’s tough, according to several team sources I spoke with this offseason.
If you don’t think the Buccaneers feel like Brooks lost a step in 2006 then why did they sign weakside linebacker Cato June and draft two linebackers who possess 4.45 speed in Quincy Black and Adam Hayward, who can easily play on the weakside? Oh, and by the way, Jamie Winborn can play Will linebacker, too. That’s a crystal clear message that this could very well be Brooks’ last season in Tampa Bay – whether he’s ready to retire in 2008 or not.
Yes, who Brooks was a cornerstone of this defense for years, is the team’s best player of all-time and is one of the best, most charitable people you’ll ever meet. But the reality is that his game has always been built on speed and he’s no longer the fastest player on the team. He just turned 34 years old and he showed signs of slowing down last year. The Buccaneers are ready to move on and win with younger players.
The Bucs weren’t thrilled to have Alstott back for another year because his play slipped too in 2006. But given the public outcry when the team cut fan favorite John Lynch in 2004, the Bucs’ hands were tied and they had to bring Alstott back when he said he wanted to play in 2007. Alstott’s fan appeal is even higher than Lynch’s ever was.
Alstott may be the most popular Buccaneer ever. But that popularity won’t earn him any starts in 2007 with a coaching staff whose backs are up against the wall.
The Buccaneers’ supposed desperation doesn’t jive with the new acquisitions the team has made this offseason. Tampa Bay hasn’t engaged in any wild trades, such as mortgaging the future by trading away several draft picks to get Calvin Johnson, who, by the way, also admitted smoking marijuana.
Nor did the Bucs spend frivolously in free agency, which can also be the sign of a desperate team. The largest signing bonus Tampa Bay dished out was $3 million, which was given to left tackle Luke Petitgout and quarterback Jeff Garcia. The Bucs were among the most conservative spending teams in free agency.
The Bucs’ desperation will come from desperately trying to get younger, faster and better, even if it comes at the price of cutting quality citizens like Shelton Quarles or benching fan favorites like Brooks and Alstott if they aren’t the best players at their respective positions anymore. But that has yet to be decided and will take place in training camp.
FAB 4. If you read the 2007 Bucs Draft Preview edition of Pewter Report or some of the Pewter Insider articles leading up to the draft, you realized that the Buccaneers were very hot on Kansas State return man/wide receiver Yamon Figures. Sources tell Pewter Report that the team would have drafted him in the fourth round had he been there, but Baltimore took him in the middle part of the third round.
After Figurs, the Buccaneers didn’t feel like there was any other return specialist worth drafting outside of the seventh round, and the best available returners – Miami of Ohio’s Ryne Robinson and Michigan’s Steve Breaston, were taken earlier on the second day of the draft. But don’t worry, the Bucs still have a player known as “Mighty Mouse” on their roster who has a good chance of becoming Tampa Bay’s full-time kick returner.
Five-foot-7, 185-pound Chad Owens, the Mosi Tatutpu Award winner for the best special teams player in NCAA football in 2004 was Tampa Bay’s first free agent signee of 2007. Owens became a Buccaneer on January 5, as first reported by PewterReport.com.
Long-time readers of SR’s Fab Fives know that I’ve been a big fan of Owens since his playing days at the University of Hawaii. In 2004, Owens returned five punts for touchdowns, which was more punt return scores than Ohio State's Ted Ginn, Jr. (four), Miami's Devin Hester (three) and USC's Reggie Bush (two) had that year. Owens averaged 14.75 yards per return on 36 returns as a senior. Throughout his Hawaii career, he has averaged 11.9 yards per punt return and scored a total of six times.
Owens has also hauled in 239 catches for 3,031 yards and scored 29 receiving touchdowns over his Warriors career. His best season came as a senior, in which he set career highs with 102 catches for 1,290 yards and 17 touchdowns. Owens, a former walk-on, had landmark games against Tulsa (eight catches for 182 yards, two touchdowns), Northwestern (nine grabs for 155 yards, four touchdowns and a punt return TD), Michigan State (13 catches for 283 yards and four scores) and UAB (eight catches for 114 yards with two touchdowns and a punt return score).
As a junior, Owens logged 85 receptions for 1,134 yards and nine touchdowns. As a freshman, he had two kickoff returns for touchdowns and also returned a punt for a touchdown. In Hawaii's season-ending 72-45 drubbing of BYU in 2001, Owens had four punt returns for 93 yards and a touchdown, and also returned six kickoffs for 249 yards (41.5 avg.) and a score.
Despite a stellar collegiate resume, Owens flamed out in Jacksonville after muffing a few punts in the regular season during his rookie year. He was never really given a chance to redeem himself with the Jaguars who released him after the 2006 season.
“I know that I needed a fresh start,” Owens said. “I felt that inside. Tampa Bay approached me first, and even when I was playing in Jacksonville – we played the Bucs twice – [Buccaneers speical teams coach] Coach [Rich] Bisaccia would always come up to me and say hello. That was real comforting to me and made me feel wanted. That was the thing that I felt when I came here on my visit. I felt appreciated and wanted. It’s not to say that I didn’t feel appreciated in Jacksonville, it’s just a different level. This is a great facility and this is a veteran team with a lot of leaders who can help me grow as a player. To come here was a no-brainer. I’m really excited for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get it started.”
Owens admits that he tried to do too much and tried too hard to make an impression as a rookie. As a result, he lost his focus, and for a while, his confidence. That ultimately led to his dismissal in Jacksonville.
“It was just one of those things where I don’t know if it was a blessing in disguise or what,” Owens said. “You have to try to turn negatives into positives. Those mistakes helped me become a more mature player. I’m not looking back. I’m looking forward. I know exactly what I have to do.
“In Jacksonville, I pressured myself too much and that caused me to make the wrong decision sometimes. I tried to do too much. Sometimes you have to let the game come to you.”
Owens said he needs to strike the right balance between playing with reckless abandon in college, where he was successful, and being to cautious and hesitant in the NFL, which caused him to be cut after two years with the Jaguars.
“I felt comfortable and confident in college,” Owens said. “Confidence is the key. I’m a no-guts, no-glory kind of guy. That was just one of my things. I just went after it at Hawaii. If I wanted to have a shot at this level I knew I had to go out and make things happen. There’s no secret as to why I scored all those touchdowns in college. I went after. But in the NFL, you’ve got to be smarter. This year, I’m going to try to be smart and try to go after it all at once.”
Owens believes he can find success in Tampa Bay and develop as an NFL player much the way Wes Welker did coming into the league as an undrafted free agent. Both players were 4.5 – 4.6 guys in the 40-yard dash, as opposed to 4.3 guys like Figurs and Hester, who get drafted on the first day, and slipped in the draft because of it.
“I’m not a 4.3 guy, but I feel my main strength is my quickness,” Owens said. “As a punt returner, it’s not all about speed. It’s about securing the football, making the right decisions and using your quickness to get positive yards. You have to know when to go after it and be aggressive. That’s what me and Coach Bisaccia were talking about. You have only so many opportunities in a game and not all of them are going to make an opportunity to make a big play. Maybe the right play is to fair catch the ball. You have to be a smart player.
“I’ve always been a Wes Welker fan. He was an undrafted free agent. I was a sixth-round pick. That’s kind of like being an undrafted free agent in my mind. He bounced around and landed with Miami and was able to make his mark as a return guy. Then they worked him into the slot and now look where he is now [in New England]. That’s the vision I had for myself coming out of college and that’s the vision I have myself coming here. I hope I can land here and stay in Tampa. This is my fresh start and my opportunity.”
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has made it clear that he doesn’t want to have any more one-trick-ponies on his team anymore as return men. Last year, Mark Jones occupied a roster spot and all he did was punt returns. That won’t happen in 2007 as either Jones, Owens or someone else will be expected to return punts and kicks for the Buccaneers.
“We added Chad Owens, a return man that we really liked two years ago out of Hawaii,” Gruden said. “He is thick and quick and he has a knack for making plays. He and Mark Jones will battle for that role and one of those guys has to step up and become the punt and kickoff returner. We can’t have a guy return punts, and [another guy return] kickoffs, and [another guy be] a long snapper, and [another guy be] a nickel back, and [another guy be] a fourth receiver. Somebody has to become more sophisticated and become all-purpose. We’re going to have competition there and it’s going to be interesting.”
Given his track record at Hawaii, Owens knows he is capable of doing both.
“I can definitely do both, but to me, punt returns are a little harder,” Owens said. “You’ve got 11 guys coming down on you right away. With kick returns, you have a chance to see the return develop and you have more space to work with.
“And yes, I know about the kick return record. I can’t believe the Bucs have never scored a touchdown on a kickoff return. I’m shooting for that. That’s number two on the list. Number one is make the team. Number two is to return a kickoff for a touchdown.”
Owens says that his fresh start in Tampa Bay with the Bucs welcoming him with open arms has given restored his confidence. Don’t be surprised if this guy becomes the return specialist Tampa Bay has wanted and needed since Karl Williams’ departure several years ago. Bisaccia has not really had a bona fide return specialist to work with yet, and no, I don’t classify Jones as a bona fide return man.
“Coach Bisaccia said that they wanted me in the draft, but Jacksonville snagged me,” Owens said. “The one thing I like about Coach Bisaccia is that he’s inspiring and he has energy. He wants to coach you and make you better. He’s got my back. That’s the feeling I get from this entire coaching staff. They’ve got your back and will do everything they can to make you feel comfortable so you can go out there and do your thing. I’m looking forward to working with Coach Bisaccia. I expect to make the team and I expect to be able to contribute on special teams.”
And the Buccaneers expect him to flip the field position for Tampa Bay’s offense and score some touchdowns. Starting with the opening kickoff.
FAB 5. Here are some things to hold you over until next time:
• Believe it or not, both Keyshawn Johnson and Keenan McCardell have put out feelers that each aging wide receiver wants to return to Tampa Bay. Huh? The same Johnson who hated Jon Gruden and was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team in 2003 and subsequently traded in 2004? The same McCardell who basically called Gruden a liar for breaking his promise to give him a raise after a Pro Bowl season in 2003? Yes. So why do both receivers want to return to Tampa Bay? Because they realize how good they had it under Gruden. The last time each received surpassed 1,000 yards they did it under Gruden. Sure, Johnson and McCardell put up some decent numbers in Dallas and San Diego, respectively, but in hindsight, both receivers realized that Gruden actually did a lot for their careers. Johnson, who will be 35 in July, has already come out and hinted at the notion that he would consider playing in Tampa after recently being cut by Carolina. McCardell, who is 37, was cut by San Diego this offseason and hasn’t made his desire to play in Tampa public yet. But he was in town for Derrick Brooks’ golf tournament and put out some feelers in the Bucs’ direction, as any out-of-work, 37-year old receiver would. Of course, don’t expect Tampa Bay to sign either receiver.
• Speaking of Keyshawn Johnson, I have a question for the local newspapers that have spewed dislike and contempt for general manager Bruce Allen over the years. Do you still think the Dallas Cowboys won the Keyshawn Johnson-Joey Galloway trade? Do you really? I mean, isn’t it time to put that notion to bed? Let’s see what’s happened since that trade went down in 2004: Johnson never made the playoffs, never had a 1,000-yard season, was cut by “his guy” Bill Parcells in favor of Terrell Owens, landed in Carolina and was cut after one season. With regards to Galloway, he rebounded from a torn groin in 2004 to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and score 17 touchdowns in 2005-06. I had a newspaper reporter come up to me last year at halftime of the Bucs-Panthers game to gloat and ask if I still thought the Bucs won the Galloway-Keyshawn trade. Of course, Johnson had already scored two touchdowns in Carolina’s route of the Buccaneers and he was feeling pretty good about himself at the time. My reply was a firm, “Yes.” I said how Galloway was the number one option in the passing game in Tampa Bay while Dallas thought so much of Johnson they made him second fiddle to Terry Glenn and then cut him in favor of signing Owens – the biggest cancer in football. My additional comeback now? Hey, at least Galloway is still employed. And the last time I checked, he was still the number one receiving option the Bucs have and is poised for another 1,000-yard season. Yes, Allen and the Bucs won the Galloway-Keyshawn trade. And each year Galloway remains a starter and is putting up yardage and touchdowns while Johnson is no longer in Dallas it tips the scale in Tampa Bay’s favor even more.
• Speaking of Keenan McCardell, his agent, Gary Uberstine, better not have another one of his Bucs players, cornerback Brian Kelly, hold out of mandatory mini-camps or training camps. General manager Bruce Allen paid a political price with fans over holding firm against McCardell’s hold out and salary demands, but in hindsight it appeared to be worth it. He laid down the law in his first season as general manager that holdouts would not be tolerated. It set a precedent that essentially forced cornerback Ronde Barber to participate in training camp last year with one year left on his deal. Barber, who had one year left on his deal, complied and was rewarded with a contract extension last August. Kelly’s problem is that he wants a new deal that rivals Barber’s and he has two years left on his deal. The Bucs won’t be giving in this year. Their stance is why would they give a player who is coming off injured reserve a pay raise with two years left. Tampa Bay wants Kelly to report, stay healthy and have a good 2007 season and then they’ll see where everything stands in 2008.
• You get a real sense from the way folks talk and act that Jeff Garcia is already the starting quarterback whether he is getting starter reps in practice right now or not. Chris Simms will have his shot at beating Garcia out, but if all things are equal in training camp and the preseason, expect the Bucs to defer to the more experienced and accomplished quarterback. That’s Garcia.
• Two quick impressions from rookie defensive end Gaines Adams and rookie safety Sabby Piscitelli. Adams comes across very quiet and reserved. But don’t mistake his personality for someone who is aloof, soft or non-aggressive. Adams’ personality reminds me a lot of Warrick Dunn’s personality, and that was one tough, hard-nosed runner. Adams is a different cat. Kind of the anti-Simeon Rice, if you will. I was just getting ready to start my Conversation with Piscitelli, which will be featured in the Post-Draft Issue of Pewter Report, and he abruptly asked me to point out Bucs general manager Bruce Allen on the practice field. I did, and he excused himself from the interview briefly to sprint across the field, shake Allen’s hand and tell him thank you for drafting him. Then he ran back over to me and apologized for interrupting the interview. That was a classy move on all fronts – to thank Allen and apologize to me (which wasn’t necessary). That’s something John Lynch would have done. There will be a lot of Lynch-Piscitelli comparisons made, but the real similarities I see are their personalities. If Piscitelli lives up to the hype, he could be a huge fan favorite in Tampa Bay.
• If you haven’t registered yet for the Inaugural Bidwell-Hovan-Pittman Pewter Report Charity Golf Tournament on Sunday, June 10 – don’t wait. We’re going to have a lot of fun at our first golf event, which takes place the day after the Buccaneers Fan Fest at Raymond James Stadium. We’re expecting a handful (or more) of additional Bucs players to attend and we have tons of prizes to give away, a delicious steak dinner from Charley’s Steakhouse and the Texas Cattle Co. followed by a sports memorabilia silent auction. Pewter Report’s Jim Flynn and myself will be on-hand all day to dish out some inside scoop on the Bucs, too. Registration begins at noon and the shotgun start begins at 1:30 p.m. It costs just $125 per person to play ($500 for a foursome) and all proceeds go to benefit the Children’s Cancer Center. Help us make this event a success and join the fun. For more information or to register, click HERE.
• One last quick note. Sports Fan-Attic, the official sports merchandiser of Pewter Report, has just received Gaines Adams and Jeff Garcia jerseys. You can purchase them on-line at SportsFanatticShop.com or in any of their nine Tampa Bay area locations in most major malls. Call 1-866-246-8118 to order by mail or for more information. Be sure you tell them Pewter Report sent you.
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