FS Jackson Re-Signs As Bucs Open Mini-Camp

April 26 - The Bucs kicked off their first day of the second mini-camp in the Jon Gruden era. The day was marked by the re-signing of starting FS Dexter Jackson, some new faces and some goofs and gaffes. Buccaneer Magazine has the major news from Friday's mini-camp.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting free safety signed his one-year tender offer from the team worth $563,000. Jackson, who is entering his fourth year in the league, was the team's lone restricted free agent this year.

Jackson started 15 games last year, missing only the Pittsburgh game due to injury. He picked off four passes, recorded 78 tackles and 2.5 sacks and notched two forced fumbles in addition to his 11 pass breakups.

Only tight end Todd Yoder remains unsigned from last year's players. He is an exclusive rights free agent, which means he has less than three years of accrued NFL experience.

There were two new tall guys clad in white jerseys sporting the No. 85. But was it receiver Joe Jurevicius or was it tight end Ken Dilger? It was hard to tell because both are 6-foot-5 and have similar builds. If you didn't watch each player come off the line of scrimmage and just noticed each one out in the secondary running their patterns it was difficult to distinguish the two.

Both players wore No. 85 with the previous teams and the team was out of vacant jerseys in the 80s, so they both donned the same jersey number.

"I'm just glad I got a number," said Dilger. "It could be zero or 99, it doesn't matter to me. That will get situated later."

Of the Bucs' 2002 rookies, the team's first three picks really stood out on the first day of Tampa Bay's second mini-camp in the Jon Gruden era. Third-round pick Marquise Walker made some nice catches, including a juggling one-handed grab on an intermediate crossing route.

Although Walker is not known for his speed, he did show a nice burst off the line of scrimmage and after the catch.

"There's two kinds of speed," Gruden said of Walker. "There's speed you run on the clock indoors in track shorts at a combine, and there's functional football speed. When you put the film on, this guy has the ability to separate and get on top of you. After the catch he has instant quickness. He's a guy who has good game-day speed."

Fourth-round draft pick running back Travis Stephens also had a nice debut, breaking a couple of long runs from scrimmage by quickly dartly through the hole and into the secondary. Stephens also displayed good hands catching several passes out of the backfield.

Free safety Jermaine Phillips, a fifth-round pick, showed his tremendous athletic ability on several plays. Phillips has a chiseled physique, good instincts towards the ball and excellent speed.

While there were plenty of bright spots at Friday's mini-camp, there were these blunders:

Free saftey John Howell leveled tight end Ken Dilger on Friday morning. Howell and Dilger were both going for the ball and had a helmet-to-helmet collision. Dilger received the worst of the blow and was sent flying horizontally. Howell later apologized for the accidental hit.

Rookie receiver Aaron Lockett was drafted to try to beat out punt return veteran Karl Williams. But Lockett muffed his first three attempts fielding punts due to first-day jitters.

Both rookie running back Travis Stephens and veteran rusher Aaron Stecker fumbled the ball in non-contact team drills, which drew Gruden's ire.

The Bucs had seven players trying out at Friday's practice. None of the players signed with the team although some could by the end of the mini-camp on Sunday.

QB Andrew Zow - Alabama

LS Mike Hedge - Central Florida

LB Adrian Hollingshed - Georgia

LB Joe Todd - Hofstra

G Marcus Jenkins - Central Florida

TE/LS Mike Sowold - Wisconsin

DE Kyle Kipps - Louisiana State

The Bucs' starting defense was absent four starters on Friday. Cornerback Brian Kelly is still nursing a broken hand from the team's last mini-camp, and has his hand in a cast. Dwight Smith replaced him in the lineup.

Defensive tackle Warren Sapp, defensive end Marcus Jones and linebacker Derrick Brooks are also being held out of the mini-camp to allow injuries from last season to heal. Sapp and Jones had offseason shoulder surgery, while Brooks is coming off a foot sprain.

Chris Jones started for Brooks, Ellis Wyms started for Jones and Chartric Darby and Mike Mackenzie started for Sapp.

In the afternoon practice, Smith sat out due to cramping, as did defensive end Greg Spires. Cory Chamblin replaced Smith in the lineup and rookie Corey White filled in for Spires.

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