Bucs News And Notes From Day 2 Of Mini-Camp

April 27 – The Pewter Pirates held their third and fourth mini-camp practices on Saturday. Want to know who was missing in action? What does Milton Wynn think of the stiff competition at the wide receiver position? Find out what head coach Jon Gruden thinks of Anthony McFarland's play at the under tackle position in place of Warren Sapp. Buccaneer Magazine has the latest news and notes from Bucs' mini-camp at One Buccaneer Place.

MISSING IN ACTION:
Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp, defensive end Marcus Jones, linebackers Derrick Brooks and Nate Webster and cornerback Brian Kelly did not participate during Saturday's mini-camp practice sessions. Sapp, Jones, Brooks and Webster are all recovering from offseason surgery and have not physically participated in any of the offseason mini-camps, but Gruden is optimistic that the team will have all five of them participating on the field at the team's next mini-camp.

"We have several guys that have been icing their bodies, but nothing significant," said Gruden. Brian Kelly didn't participate. He's got the broken hand. But we expect him to participate in the organized team days late in May. Hopefully we get the "Big Three" back pretty soon. I'm looking forward to seeing (Warren) Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Marcus Jones out there."

While they haven't been able to physically participate, Sapp and Brooks have been noticeably coaching their defensive teammates along, especially during 11-on-11 drills. Brooks has taken linebackers like Justin Smith, Jack Golden and Ryan Nece under his wing while Sapp has advised defensive tackle Chuck Darby.

"When the offense makes a play, I get excited. I try to express that," said Gruden. "When the defense makes a play, they get excited. I think Warren (Sapp) and Derrick (Brooks) lead the expressing on that side of the ball. The competition is great. I think that's the No. 1 reason I enjoy coaching is because it's a blast to compete, and we have competitors out here, which is a good sign."

FILLING SOME BIG SHOES
Tampa Bay defensive tackle Anthony "Booger" McFarland has been filling in for Warren Sapp at the under tackle position on defense. Gruden has been impressed with McFarland, who normally plays at the nose tackle position.

"Anytime Warren Sapp goes down, you obviously have to shuffle your line," said Gruden. "One thing I've discovered is that (Anthony) McFarland can be as good an under tackle as there is in football. He's steps up and he's had an unbelievable offseason. That's not to say I don't want Warren (Sapp) back out here as soon as possible."

WYNN FITTING RIGHT IN
With the recent addition of wide receivers Joe Jurevicius and Marquise Walker, one could certainly understand if some of the younger receivers like Milton Wynn, Frank Murphy and Darryl Daniel became frustrated. But second-year WR Milton Wynn doesn't mind the competition. In fact, he welcomes it.

"I think it (competition) brings out the best in each of us," said Wynn. "Coach Gruden is a real aggressive, competitive-type coach. It rubs off on the players. When you bring in competition, it makes each individual work harder because you have to beat out the next guy. When you have competition, everyone has to perform. Nobody just sits back and nothing is guaranteed. You have to work hard at it, and may the best man win."

Wynn (6-2, 207) is learning his third offensive system in just two seasons, but he feels like he understands Gruden's the best.

"It's definitely starting to click," said Wynn. "It's a lot of stuff, but this offense makes a lot of sense. I have a good understanding of it and I'm a lot further along than I was last mini-camp, and I expect to be a lot further along next mini-camp than I was this mini-camp."

CLOSE CALLS
Both DT Anthony McFarland and CB Dwight Smith gave the team a scare when they appeared to suffer injuries during 11-on-11 drills on Saturday. McFarland tried to stop running back Michael Pittman on a running play, but Pittman accidentally kicked him in the ankle, which caused Booger to walk gingerly for a few moments. He did, however, return to the action after taking a few plays off.

Smith, who missed Friday's second practice with cramps, made a nice play in pass coverage by knocking a pass down, but by making the play, he appeared to bang up his hand a bit. Smith wiggled his hand around a couple of times, but it didn't appear to be more than a stinger. Smith has been filling in as the team's No. 2 cornerback in place of Brian Kelly, who suffered a broken hand on April 6.

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Looking for the largest selection of Bucs merchandise on the internet? Check out BucGear.com. WYNN: "Everybody's playing in the heat," said wide receiver Milton Wynn. "Some people are more used to it than others. We all just have to adapt. We have to drink more water, Gatorade – whatever it takes. We have to come out and practice hard everyday and we can't use the heat as an excuse. Coach emphasizes drinking fluids because we're human beings, but at the same time, we're athletes." GRUDEN: On Rob Johnson: "I'm real pleased with all three of our quarterbacks. Rob has done some interesting things. He's making the down the field throws. The problem that we have right now with Rob is -- sometimes the best play you can make is throwing the ball away. Sometimes the best play you can make is checking it down right in front of you. Don't be greedy with the football. At times, he just zooms in and has so much confidence in his ability to throw it in there that he runs out of time and something bad happens. But I'm impressed with the way he's improving and the way he's picking this system up. I just want him to continue to improve on his decision making." "It depends on how you look at it. He did take a lot of hits and a lot of sacks. Looking at those sacks on film, he's not the only reason why he got sacked." Click here to discuss this topic and more with other Bucs fans in the BucMag.com Chat Room.

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Click here to view Tampa Bay's current 2002 roster.


Become an insider today with a subscription to Buccaneer Magazine or by becoming a Club Insider. You can also become a subscriber to Buccaneer Magazine by calling 1-800-881-BUCS(2827).

Looking for the largest selection of Bucs merchandise on the internet? Check out BucGear.com.


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