Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Bucs Start Mini Camp
The Buccaneers started mini camp yesterday and just as Jon Gruden said Jeff Garcia was the number one Quarterback on the depth chart getting most of the reps. The surprising thing was that Bruce Gradkowski got the majority of the reps that were left. Simms throwing motion is messed up at the moment as he is still adjusting from the spleen surgery he had last year. Chris Simms has said that he is still not 100% and is adjusting his throwing motion to protect that mid-section. At the moment it looks that Bruce Gradkowski is the back-up quarterback to Jeff Garcia and Chris Simms will be the number three starter. Gruden during a television interview spoke directly to Jake Plummer telling him if he is watching that they would love to have him. One has to wonder why Chris re-signed here as it has always been obvious that Gruden hates him and would rather have a guy who does not want to play in this league over Simms.
Second round pick Aaron Sears who is fighting for a starting spot in the offensive line missed the first day to "some issues he is going through" according to the Buccaneers. Petigout did not practice in the morning, but did practice in the afternoon. The offensive line will be key to the Bucs this season. Buenning is trying to be moved to center, which would be a great move if he can play center to have a solid line all the way across. A player that you should watch for is Maurice Stovall. I think Stovall will be the number two reciever on the team when the season starts. Stovall is a big strong reciever who can go underneath and up top.
Brian Kelly is back and ready to get going. Kelly is healthy and wants to get back out on the field and compete. This is great news for the Bucs because they are a much better defense when Kelly is in the lineup across from Barber. Kelly is our best shutdown corner and he was extremely missed last year in the secondary. While Kelly does want a new contract he is not planning on holding out and don't look for the Bucs to get a new contract done anytime soon as Bruce Allen has said that Kelly is making what he should be and they will look into an extension next year.
Simeon Rice was also seen at camp running sprints and laps. Simeon looked real good running and is recovering nicely from his shoulder surgery last year. Simeon did not participate in any of the practices, but was out there and running. Simeon is still in good shape and the Bucs are claiming he will be ready for the start of Training Camp on July 27th. Simeon will be needed to help out the Bucs pass rush, which was one of the worst in the league last year. The Bucs have said that they plan on rotating Gaines Adams in with Simeon, but I think they should keep Simeon in when Adams comes into play, which will allow the Bucs to put pressure on the Quarterbacks.
The Linebackers look good in mini camp. Barrett Ruud, who is now the starter, has looked the best he has since being in a Buccaneers uniform. I have always liked Ruud as he is a smart linebacker with great instincts, but he was stuck behind Quarles. While I still think the situation revolving around Quarles stinks to high heaven i believe we are in good hands with Barret Ruud. Ruud was a star at Nebraska and was effected last year early on by the loss of his mom. Derrick Brooks has commented that Ruud has asked more questions and has looked better than he as every seen Ruud since joining the Bucs. Cato June has looked as one of the most athletic Linebackers on the team and has looked great in coverage. June most likely will move to the other side and take Nece's job as the Bucs have no plans of moving Brooks from his spot on in the linebacking corp. The Linebackers look real solid and with guys like Nece, Chukwurah, Black, Winborne backing up the starters. The Bucs also hinted that you may see some 3-4 sprinkled in during the course of the year.
The return of Raheem Morris as the secondary coach has created a lot of excitement to the defense and the team. No players are happier with his return than Jermaine Phillips and Will Allen. Phillips and Allen had their best seasons and seemed to be improving every year while Morris was coaching, but last year they both took a huge step back and looked bad during most games. While people may say that Morris could not have made that big of a difference, if you watch the games it is obvious he does. Phillips and Allen's problems stemmed mostly from being out of position and not being able to adjust, these are things that Morris will fix. Phillips and Allen also need to watch out for Sabby Piscitelli and Tanard Jackson. Piscitelli and Jackson have looked good and under Morris they may be ready to step right in. Piscitelli seems to be more ready than Jackson as he has played safety longer, but if I was Allen or Phillips I would make sure i was paying attention and playing well.