Bucs News And Notes: Monday

September 16 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden discussed his team's 25-0 win against the Baltimore Ravens with the media on Monday morning. He also addressed several other topics from One Buccaneer Place. PewterReport.com has compiled a notebook with news and notes that came out of Gruden's press conference.

S David Gibson (left ankle sprain) - Questionable

DE Simeon Rice (shoulder) - Probable

TE Ken Dilger (right elbow contusion) - Probable

SS John Lynch (quad contusion) - Probable

DT Anthony McFarland (right hip flexor) - Probable

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden felt his team came out somewhat uninspired in their opening-day loss to the New Orleans Saints, so he took it upon himself to fire up his troops the night before the Baltimore game with an inspired speech to the team. While no one would say exactly what was said in Gruden's speech, it apparently worked.

"A lot of coaches, they come in here in a situation like this, we're 0-1, and they're scared out of their minds about going 0-2," said Bucs strong safety John Lynch. "Not Jon. He said, ‘Forget all that. Take all that pressure out of it. If we go out and physically dominate someone and we don't come out a winner, put it on me. Go attack someone.'

"That message was loud and clear to us, and we responded. Don't play scared – get after it. That's how you have to play in this league."

Gruden said on Monday morning he was just trying to let his team know they were a better team than what they showed against New Orleans.

"(We) just wanted to come together," Gruden said about his speech to his players on the eve of the Bucs' game against the Ravens. "I'm not a real philosophical guy. But I wanted the team to understand that we had been through one game and that there shouldn't be any excuses for change. Having a new head coach, a new running back, a new wide receiver and a new system are all merely excuses. We have to go out there and play up to our capabilities. That was the theme of the speech.

"There were some adjectives and some words used that we can't talk about here today."

Tampa Bay came our firing against Baltimore. They scored 10 points in the first quarter and went on to shutout Baltimore on the road, 25-0.

"It was the opening bell," Gruden of the team making plays early in the game. "We talk about Mike Tyson coming out of the ring when that bell rings, you don't have to wait until the ninth or 10th round to throw your best stuff at the other fighter. When that bell rings, you've got to go and you've got to go after them. On the opening drive I think we had five first downs and Gramatica makes a field goal. We got three-and-outs on defense. I thought the energy on the opening kickoff was much better. I think that was all a big deciding factor in the game yesterday."

The Bucs players were obviously motivated by Gruden's speech. After the team's 25-0 win, they gave their head coach the game ball.

"It meant a lot," Gruden said of receiving the game ball from his team. "The responsibility of being a head coach of this team is tremendous. I've said all along that I'm succeeding a guy that did a great job here. It means a lot, but at the same time, we're staring at the St. Louis Rams. You better get over any adversity or any good things quickly because St. Louis is coming in here on a mission and we know that."

Tampa Bay second-year tackle Kenyatta Walker started at right tackle on Sunday. Gruden felt Walker played well and said he hoped Walker would build on his performance and receive some relief from the criticism he's received in the media.

"Hopefully he's not under the microscope as much as he has been," Gruden said of Walker. "This guy has probably been more scrutinized than President Bush. He did do some good things. There are some things that he has to pick up on. I'm sure when he looks at the tape, he'll see there's five or six adjustments that he'll have to make in order to become one of the better players in this league at right tackle. Those are the adjustments we need him to make to be a great player. He did do some good things. He played hard and that was exciting. He had the right look in his eye and the right frame of mind. He pass protected pretty good, but there are some things in the running game that we need him to pickup on.

"I think it's a performance he can build on throughout the year."

Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber had an incredible game against the Ravens. He recorded four tackles and defensed a career-high six passes. He also delivered a key block on Karl Williams punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter when he bulled over Baltimore's tight end, which caught Gruden's eye.

"I try not to compare players, but this guy is really a good player," Gruden said of Barber. "The play he made in the kicking game on Karl Williams' punt return for a touchdown was an unbelievable play. It was a tremendous play. He's a collision player. He's not a drag down corner, he's a knockdown corner. He's a very good coverage man. I think he's one of the 50 best looking people in the world."

Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson received much more time to throw from his offensive line on Sunday, which was a big reason why he was able to complete his first eight pass attempts and 24-of-31 pass attempts on the day for 211 yards against Baltimore. While Johnson had more time to throw, the team faced some challenges in terms of field position. Needless to say, Gruden was impressed with Johnson's performance, but he'd like to see his offense finish off drives with touchdowns instead of field goals.

"I thought Brad Johnson was outstanding," said Gruden. "I thought he was tremendous at times. When he's given an opportunity to stride through throws and get good looks, he's going to make good decisions and he's going to throw the ball accurate and on time. But we had three or four beautiful drives – double-digit drives -- but we didn't finish them off the way we wanted to finish them off. We had 21:00 of possession in the first half. Field position was a huge issue yesterday. It was a major obstacle for us."

The national media made a big deal of a discussion that took place on the sideline on Sunday between Gruden and Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson. Gruden implied Monday morning that more was made of the discussion than was called for.

"I gave (Keyshawn) a pep talk," said Gruden. "It wasn't a heated, screaming, yelling and arguing about anything. He got held a couple of times. There were some defensive pass interference calls against Keyshawn Johnson. He's a big guy and I wanted to challenge him. I don't want anybody to ever grab Keyshawn Johnson. I don't think Buccaneer fans want that either. I let him know that. I was cheering him on and trying to push him through it. It was frustrating. But at the same time, Keyshawn Johnson played well yesterday.

"If this was a confrontation, then you haven't seen anything yet."

Buccaneers Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp was fined $5,000 by the National Football League last Friday for hitting New Orleans Saints rookie offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley in the head last Sunday.

Sapp evidently didn't learn a lesson from that fine and may have another one on the way after he picked up Ravens RB Jamal Lewis and slammed him to the ground well after a ref had blown the running play dead with under 1:00 remaining in the first quarter on Sunday. Sapp was penalized for his actions this time, which moved Baltimore's offense 15-yards upfield. Gruden said Monday that Sapp's actions were inexcusable.

"I think he was too aggressive in that situation," Gruden said of Sapp. "He needs to know better and Warren knows better. What can I say? That was a careless foul. He knows that and we have to eliminate that from his play."

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