Gruden Speaks: DE shakeup

Tampa Bay seems to be flexing its, well, flexibility on the defensive line, if Monday morning's workout was any indication. At least two different ends shuffled to different positions, and a new entrant into the defensive end race really impressed head coach Jon Gruden, in this edition of "Gruden Speaks."

Perhaps the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally gave us a taste of what they'd like to do with first-round pick Gaines Adams.

Or, perhaps, Jon Gruden is just teasing us.

With a special teams workout slated for Monday afternoon, Gruden set the media in motion about, well, he and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin setting Adams in motion.

For the first time in training camp, Adams lined up somewhere else other than right end. Adams lined up under a tackle at one point in a nickel package, and also saw some work at left end.

Gruden and Kiffin both insisted earlier this offseason that Adams would train at right end until he felt comfortable with that position.

Maybe Adams is starting to feel that way. Gruden spoke to the move on Monday, but spoke more to the evolution of this season's defensive line and finding out where their flexibility lies.

"We're trying to find a home, a natural starting point," Gruden said. "And we are trying to find out what unique versatility we have. (Kevin) Carter can play anywhere – except quarterback, in spite of what he may say. He can play the three-technique in the base. He can rush inside or out, right side or left. He can play in the 3-4. He's a football player. Gaines Adams is comfortable in a right-handed stance or a left-handed stance, coming off either side. Usually, the premier pass rushers have that ability. We're in the process right now of evaluating who are our four best rushers, what traits they all have. And against specific opponents, some of that will come into play."

Or maybe there are other machinations at work.

While Adams played some on the left side, Greg Spires — normally a left end — and newly-acquired end Greg White saw time on the right side.

White is an intriguing player. Tampa Bay signed the former Arena Football League star last the weekend. White, who played under Buccaneers offensive assistant coach and Orlando Predators head coach Jay Gruden, set the AFL record with 15 sacks in 2007. He also earned First-Team All-Arena, AFL Lineman of the Year and AFL Defensive Player of Year awards in the process.

He's had a cup of coffee with several NFL teams, including Washington, New Orleans, Tennessee, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. So the Buccaneers are not altogether unfamiliar with him.

But Gruden came away impressed with the 6-foot-3, 268-pound end's work on Monday. "He's going to have a chance to make it if he rushed the passer like he did today," Gruden said. "In the one-on-one pass rushes, he stood out every time he rushed the passer. He's got to make plays. He's got to learn a lot fast. He's got to get himself, I tell him, re-acclimated to playing outside where it's a little warmer than those cool air- conditioned domes. But I'm really impressed with what he's done. He's come in here with a natural pass rush, particularly effective on the right side. And so far he's got a lot of people's attention."

If White continues to progress and impress, that could leave the Buccaneers with five edge rushers, some with experience — like Carter, Spires and Patrick Chukwurah — and some with youth — Adams and White. It might also put two defensive ends out of work, as Julian Jenkins and Jeremy Pittman were vying for that fifth end spot.

On the injury front, linebacker Barrett Ruud missed Monday's workout with an injury, but should be back on Tuesday. Tackle Luke Petitgout is still battling a sore back and appears to be a no-go for Friday's game. Gruden said the team is preparing him for the second preseason game against Jacksonville.

Want to read the rest of Jon Gruden's press conference from Monday? Click here.


Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors.


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