Rookies Shine in Mini-Camp

More than 50 veterans, rookies, and free agents impress Bucs coach Jon Gruden

By Jeff Berlinicke

It was only a three-day rookie mini-camp, but the first glimpse at the 2005 Buccaneers had coach Jon Gruden in an upbeat mood.

Not only were all of the top draft picks in the camp, but Gruden also got to take a look at 20 players who were on the field strictly on a tryout basis.

"There are four or five guys here who we'll find a way to get on our roster,'' Gruden said. "This was a strong cast of players.''

Gruden also said his rookie crop was the best he's had since he came to Tampa Bay in 2002.

Running back Cadillac Williams, tight end Alex Smith, linebacker Barrett Ruud, and offensive linemen Chris Colmer and Dan Buenning all came into camp looking in shape although none has signed a contract yet.

The Bucs waited a day and signed four of the tryout players – running back Derek Watson, cornerbacks Carlos Campbell and James Patrick, and offensive lineman Kevin Fischer. Watson is especially intriguing. He rushed for 2,374 yards at South Carolina and South Carolina State. He was dropped from South Carolina for disciplinary reasons, but would have likely been a high draft pick if not for the incident.

After the last practice, Gruden had former Bucs quarterback Doug Williams address the team. In his second year in the team's personnel department, Williams is another example of Gruden bringing back former Bucs to talk to the team and help build tradition.

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