Gruden Speaks: He's ready for pads

In a new feature, will post "Gruden Speaks" every day during training camp. We'll feature one aspect of Gruden's daily press conference, and then offer up his entire press conference transcript to premium subscribers who want the complete scoop. If you're not a subscriber click the link to the right of this article to sign up.

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Jon Gruden admits he can tell very little about his team until they're allowed to put on pads and hit like a normal football team.

So he's really looking forward to Sunday morning when the Bucs put on the pads for the first time since December.

"I think we should put pads on, yes," Gruden said with a smile after Saturday morning's workout. "We've been in shorts for a long time. We had so many injuries last year that I don't think we practiced often in pads all last season. I think our guys are really excited about putting the pads on and getting on with business."

Gruden was able to point out a few players after just three practices, singling out wide receivers David Boston and Maurice Stovall, cornerback Phillip Buchanon and rookie safety Tanard Jackson.

The coaching staff debates every night about whether the offense or the defense won the day's practice drills. Gruden said they're a few days away from finding out which unit is ahead of the other.

"Until you put the pads on three or four days and you see some type of consistency in performance, it's going to be a while before we can make those statements," Gruden said.

Putting on pads also means the increased possibilities for injuries, a bugaboo for the Bucs in past training camps, specifically on the offensive line. Gruden said that several players are already being monitored by the training staff for things like dehydration and cramps, conditions that can lead to more serious injuries. So far, only Derrick Brooks has a reported condition, a sore hamstring that Gruden said would need a couple of days to heal.

But the Buccaneers need to get into pads, Gruden said, so they can accomplish one of his primary goals for this season.

"We have some guys that are without a doubt physical, but we need a collective physical show, every play, every day," Gruden said. "That's what we're after, that's what we're all about here and that's what we're looking for."

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Included among his more than two dozen writing and editing awards are national awards from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors, and state awards from the Florida Press Club and the Florida Sports Writers Association, for his coverage of the Buccaneers since 2004.

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