WR BROWN MAKES DEBUT WITH BUCS:
New Tampa Bay wide receiver Tim Brown, who signed a one-year contract worth $760,000 with the Pewter Pirates on Tuesday, made his Buccaneer debut on Wednesday morning.
Head coach Jon Gruden said Brown showed flashes of the play-making ability he had when he played under him from 1998-2001.
“He looks good,” Gruden said of Brown. “I was very pleased. He’s still got first-step quickness and has a real good retention on what we’re doing. It’s good to have him on our team. We’re excited about him.”
Brown, 38, spent a total of six years in Gruden’s style of offense. Two of those seasons were with former Raiders head coach Bill Callahan, who succeeded Gruden in 2002 but was replaced by Norv Turner, who runs more of a vertical-style offense, this offseason.
During Gruden’s four-year tenure with the Raiders, Brown caught 338 passes for 4,689 yards and 35 touchdowns while making two trips to the Pro Bowl. Needless to say, Brown is happy to be running routes in Gruden’s offense again.
“It was great,” Brown said after Wednesday morning’s practice. “It was great to be playing football again. It has been nearly three years since I have been able to run some of the routes I did today. I probably caught more balls today then I have caught in all practices combined the last three or four months. It felt great, it felt like football, and I just have to get acclimated to the heat and all that stuff. Other than that, it felt great.”
Brown seemed to be impressed with rookie WR Michael Clayton, who is still learning — and competing for — the starting flanker (Z) position in Gruden’s offense. A 1987 Heisman Trophy winner and nine-time Pro Bowler, Brown walked away from his first practice with Clayton quite impressed.
“Today I had the opportunity to help Michael Clayton on a route,” said Brown. “He is a very talented guy and is going to be a great player in this league. He has a great head on his shoulders, which is very good to see because over the past four or five years I haven’t seen guys with his kind of talent come into this league with a straight head. Going out and being able to help these young guys out is going to be just as much fun as going out and making plays.”
While fans are anxious to see Brown suit up in a red and pewter jersey for the first time on Saturday night, they may have to wait. According to Gruden, Brown will likely miss the Bucs’ first preseason contest vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I don’t think he’ll play,” said Gruden. “We’ll see where he is at the end of the week, but right now our mindset is to not let him play the first game.”
Tampa Bay held linebacker Derrick Brooks (knee) and Jeff Gooch (shin splint), running back Jamel White (concussion), cornerback Ronyell Whitaker (dehydration) and wide receiver Charles Lee (hamstring) out of Wednesday morning’s practice. Brooks and White are listed as day to day while there’s a strong chance that Lee will miss Saturday’s preseason game.
“We held out Derrick Brooks,” said Gruden. “He obviously has a hyperextended knee. We think he’ll be back in a couple of days.”
Bucs guard Kerry Jenkins left Wednesday morning’s practice early with a sprained ankle. The injury is not believed to be serious, but the team will do further examinations to determine the extent of the ankle sprain.
“Kerry Jenkins sprained his ankle a little bit in the individual period,” said Gruden. “He’ll probably miss the Bengals game.”
Fullback Deon Dyer (undisclosed) and tight end Doug Zeigler (undisclosed) were added to the injury report in afternoon.
For the first time in over a week, the Bucs practiced without pads during the morning session. The players sported jerseys, helmets and shorts.
“We’ve had nine consecutive days of pads and we wanted to give our guys a little break from the thing,” said Gruden. “We increased the reps. We got a lot work done today in coverage and different situations. We always do that this time in camp.”
Several Bucs players have changed jersey numbers over the last 24 hours.
With wide receiver Tim Brown taking jersey number 81 from tight end Dave Moore, Moore has switched to number 86. According to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, Moore was okay with the number change.
“We just asked Dave politely,” said Gruden. “Dave’s changed numbers a couple of times. Dave’s a fisherman, he can fish with any kind of bait. Any jersey works for Dave.”
Brown suggested he would compensate Moore for giving him the jersey number he’s worn throughout his entire 16-year career.
“The organization did it,” said Brown. “I just spoke with Dave Moore and told him that we would let the wives handle it. That may be dangerous, maybe a little more expensive, but we will let them settle it out.”
Wide receiver Edell Shepherd, who had worn No. 86, is now sporting No. 3, which is the number he wore as a rookie last season. Rookie cornerback Lenny Williams has switched from 48 to 28.
In what appeared to be a prank of sorts, Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice, who normally wears No. 97, sported jersey No. 19 during the afternoon practice.
“I don’t know why he did that,” Gruden said smiling. In case you need a clue, disgruntled wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson wore number 19 during his stay in Tampa.
LANE TO CONTINUE SIDELINE REPORTING FOR BUCS:
The broadcasting crew for WDAE, 620 and WTBT, 103.5 is complete. Ronnie Lane, who has been the the Bucs’ radio sideline reporter for the last few years, was recently hired to fill a position in that same capacity with Clear Channel. Lane joins two of his broadcasting partners from the team’s former flagship station, Scot Brantley and Gene Deckerhoff.
HURRICANE ON THE WAY?:
It’s still a little early, but there is some growing concern that Tropical Storm Charlie could disrupt Tampa Bay’s preseason game vs. Cincinnati, which is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The storm is currently on track to impact the gulf coast of Florida on Friday. Charlie is approaching Jamaica and could be upgraded to a hurricane at anytime. A hurricane watch is currently in effect for the Florida Keys.
In the meantime, the Bucs and Bengals are in talks with the NFL about the potential severe weather situation.
“We’ve had a rough schedule this first week of training camp,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. “I think we play Jacksonville right around the corner after we play Cincinnati, so it would probably be hard to reschedule this game given the fact that we play the Jaguars (six) days later. I’m out of business here in terms of what happens when there’s a hurricane. I know this — if there’s a hurricane, I’m not going out there to coach a game, and I like football, too.
AFTERNOON PRACTICE CUT SHORT:
Tampa Bay’s 2:45 p.m. practice was cut short by about 45 minutes by severe thunder storms. The Bucs, who used the afternoon workout to game plan for their preseason game against the Bengals, will hold two workouts on Thursday.
“You don’t like to miss practice, but we did get the majority of practice in,” said Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden. “It’s just too bad we missed the special teams segment and a couple of special periods at the end. We’ll try to catch up on those later.”
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