Postscripts blog in review Aug. 15-21

My fantasy picks for the 2007 season, a take on Michael Vick and the Jags' quarterback situation and the big challenge facing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were just some of the topics I hit in Postscripts over the past seven days. Need to catch up? Here's your chance.

This is "Postscripts," my personal blog. Here, each day, I'll write on random topics, both Bucs related and non-Bucs related. This blog also includes links to the top Bucs stories on the Web. Why? Because, well, I can never write enough, and sometimes the things I learn on this beat can't be fit into a story. So, until the carpal tunnel sets in, I'll keep typing.

Wednesday, Aug. 15

The Bucs Buzz

I search the globe for the best Buccaneers stories on the Web — so you don't have to.

If you haven't already given it a look, I officially direct you to my article on Buccaneers training camp battles. It's the fourth edition, and I don't think anyone out there has done this comprehensive a breakdown on the team's key position battles.

It doesn't just include starting roles, either. I have a great deal to say on the key backup roles in camp, too.

Off-site, the Tampa Tribune took a look at safeties Jermaine Phillips and Will Allen. It's an interesting take from the point of view of both players. They knew that changes would come after a 4-12 2006. But that doesn't mean they're going quietly.

Also at the Trib, Anwar S. Richardson has his take on the quietly productive Ike Hilliard, someone head coach Jon Gruden is quite fond of.

At the St. Petersburg Times, secondary coach Raheem Morris tells Joanne Korth that he loves training camp and doesn't want it to stop. I'm sure the line to disagree starts behind Joey Galloway.

And what irks Gruden more than anything else? dropped passes, that's what. The Bucs have had their fair share the past few days.

Elsewhere, the Orlando Sentinel has a short Q&A with defensive tackle Chris Hovan about, of all things, his dog, Potsie (as in Weber, from "Happy Days?" The Bradenton Herald filed this update on the work habits and roster fight ahead for Earnest Graham, everyone's favorite August running back.

Kenyatta throws it down

Whether you love him or hate him, you have an opinion of former Bucs tackle Kenyatta Walker. I personally thought he was a serviceable tackle, though I'm looking at it through the prism of objectivity.

Walker signed with Carolina recently. Here's the link to USA Today's story.

This was his first interview since signing, and, naturally, the Buccaneers came up.

Former Buccaneers tackle Kenyatta Walker. (AP)
"I have nothing bad to stay about Gruden and all of that. But the record speaks for itself," Walker said. "They only won one Super Bowl over there and I was the starting right tackle. I don't think they're winning one anytime soon. What happened over there, a lot of it was how young I was at the time. There was not a lot of trust and appreciation for each other. I've moved on, but the record speaks for itself."

What do you take from that quote? Honestly, I think Walker is drawing a direct correlation between himself starting at right tackle and the Buccaneers winning Super Bowl XXXVII. Funny, I was in Vegas that day and I could swear the defense won that game for Tampa Bay. Maybe it was just me.

RBK-oed

Is anyone else as sick of Reebok's "Chalkboard" pop-up ad on Web sites as I am? Just one little mouse drag across the thing and I'm spending five minutes trying to get rid of it.

If I wanted to write on a chalkboard, I have one at home!

As Vick's buddies turn (witnesses for the prosecution)

Nothing brings out the strength of a corporate partnership than the possibility of jail time.

Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick's other two co-defendants turned on him yesterday, agreeing to plea guilty and testify against Vick in the dog fighting trial that is set to begin in November.

That's the prosecution 3, Vick 0. Sounds like a first-quarter score against the Bucs.

Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick. (AP)
The first guy to turn against Vick will testify, according to prosecutors, that Vick bankrolled just about the entire operation in Surry County, Va. These guys are rolling over on Vick faster than "Sammy the Bull" did on John Gotti. here's the link to the latest on the scandal.

Prosecutors told the AP that a normal person, A.K.A. not a celebrity, would probably cop a plea in Vick's case. But prosecutors actually expect that Vick may fight this until the bitter end (which would likely not be in his favor).

I've heard some people say that Vick could rehabilitate his image (slowly) if he came out and admitted his guilt and did some sort of penance (community service, large charitable donation to PETA, etc…). That, to me, seems like pandering of the highest order. Vick would be smart to take a plea right now, bow out of public view for a year and let the Falcons do what they may with his contract (i.e., void it and release him). Then, around this time next year, start an aggressive P.R. campaign to show that he's changed (if he has). At least, with the passage of time, that would be somewhat believable.

I also had someone ask me if the Bucs should show interest in Vick on the open market. Aside from the P.R. nightmare the Bucs would have to deal with, Vick is about the worst possible fit for Jon Gruden's offense (that is, if Gruden is still here in 2008).

I wonder who would have the better odds of re-employment if both Vick and Gruden were out of work by the end of the 2007 season? Wait! Think before you answer.

Thursday, Aug. 16

The Bucs Buzz

Today is the last day of training camp, perhaps the happiest day on earth for a professional football player besides winning the Super Bowl.

At Bucsblitz.com right now, you can view my five best and worst stories to come out of training camp. here's the link. We'll also have post-camp coverage, including Jon Gruden's final press conference in Orlando, later today.

Off-site, the Tampa Tribune has an update on Gruden's "irritation" over questions about Chris Simms and his sore elbow. We had our take on that story yesterday.

At the St. Petersburg Times, defensive end Kevin Carter is so versatile that he can play anywhere on the defensive line. Well, the Bucs appear to have him tabbed for the left side this season, and Carter is game for whatever Tampa Bay wants to throw at him.

Also, starting quarterback Jeff Garcia isn't worried about his two three-and-outs from last week's game against New England as the Bucs prepare to face the Jaguars on Saturday.

For those of you that are still depressed over Mike Alstott, you probably won't like the headline of this Orlando Sentinel story on Derrick Brooks. Brooks is now the only player on the active roster that wore the team's old Florida Orange uniforms. He's 34 and he knows that one day he'll have to follow Shelton Quarles and Dave Moore, and perhaps Alstott, into retirement. And the Lakeland Ledger presents its own take on the burgeoning battle at safety, from the perspective of the starters.

Camp is over

Apparently the heat has gotten to Jon Gruden. He's done with training camp — early.

The final practice of training camp was canceled Thursday morning, leaving what few fans that were there high and dry for autographs and such.

Whether that means Gruden will speak to the media before leaving Orlando remains to be seen.

Gruden, you might remember, also canceled the final practice of mini-camp in June.

Now all the Bucs have left is a walkthrough at MacDill Air Force Base on Friday in Tampa before leaving for the preseason game on Saturday night in Jacksonville.

Fantasy sleepers

I promised this yesterday, but didn't quite get around to it. These are eight players or units you can get fairly late in your draft that I think will have a lot of value this season:

Atlanta RB Jerious Norwood. (AP)
Jerious Norwood, RB, Atlanta: Warrick Dunn's back troubles so close to the season worry me. So does Dunn's age (32). Norwood has young legs and most of the training camps and preseason reps. I can see him having the majority of the carries this season.

D.J. Hackett, WR, Seattle: I drafted him in one of my leagues in the 12th round. All he does is catch footballs, and once he beats out Nate Burleson for the No. 2 job he's going to catch a lot more. He caught a career-high 45 passes last year. In the Seahawks' offense, that number could go up to 60 or more.

Tatum Bell, RB, Detroit: Another guy I'm bullish on, because backs in a Mike Martz-led offense are usually successful. Plus, there are conflicting reports on the status of starter Kevin Jones, who is battling a foot fracture. He may start the season on PUP. If he does, Bell gets most of the carries and could benefit from an improved passing game, better line play and Martz's play-calling imagination.

Jason Campbell, QB, Washington: His starting numbers last year project to about 23 touchdown passes, a solid figure for a third-year quarterback. Plus, I like his rapport with Santana Moss, who had some of his best numbers last year with Campbell at quarterback. And, Joe Gibbs likes to pound away with the run, and that can protect this young quarterback from making too many mistakes. Take him late and see what happens.

Maurice Stovall, WR, Tampa Bay: I'm not sure this guy is going to explode, because Tampa Bay's offense doesn't inspire a lot of confidence right now. But all the tools are there, and his 6-foot-5 frame and leaping ability give him an advantage over just about every cornerback in the NFL. He won't have a big year, but he can be had late and he could produce a few TDs for you when your studs are on a bye. Plus I need a Buc on here or I'm going to hear about it.

Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia: It's the "Third-Year Wide Receiver" theory at work. Brown is now Donovan McNabb's top target, and McNabb will be just fine. Brown loves to get upfield and could end up with 60-70 catches this year. His career high is 46. He also had eight TDs last year. Best of all, he can be had in the middle rounds because some people are unsure of him and McNabb. I'm not.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh: I wanted this guy in a recent draft, but it would have put me in a bye week bind. People will forget about him because of Hines Ward, but don't forget that he had 49 receptions as a rookie last year. Defenses will key on Ward and Willie Parker and leave Holmes in single coverage. His TDs will go up.

Dallas defense: They may not qualify as a sleeper, but Wade Phillips will turn this passive 3-4 into the most aggressive defense in the NFC — and I got the Cowboys with my final pick in a recent draft. Anthony Spencer will start as a rookie and the Cowboys have solid returners. If OLB Greg Ellis will just be patient, go on PUP and come back at midseason, this defense could be a beast by the time he comes back.

Keep three, Jack

Over at Jagnation.com, our Jacksonville Jaguars site on Scout.com, Charlie Bernstein published a recent article about what the Jaguars should do with their No. 3 quarterback position. Bernstein took the position that the Jaguars keeping just two quarterbacks this season is an intriguing possibility. Even head coach Jack Del Rio admitted there's merit to the idea. You can give the story a read yourself by clicking here. Of course, the Jags are playing the Bucs this weekend in preseason, so it's worth your time to head over there and get informed about the Jags and how they're doing entering the game.

I'd have to disagree with Charlie on this one, though. I think taking just two quarterbacks into the regular season is a mistake. Just look at the Buccaneers. In Gruden's five seasons as head coach, the Buccaneers have used three quarterbacks four of those seasons. The position is one of the worst, in terms of attrition. That's why Jon Gruden seems to pursue every quarterback that comes near Tampa Bay every year. He knows from experience.

Their starter, Byron Leftwich, has missed time each of the last two seasons with injuries. Their backup, David Garrard is serviceable, but even Bernstein admits his abilities are limited. I'm sure the Jags had set aside that third spot for Daunte Culpepper in the event they were able to sign him.

Given those facts, doesn't it seem smart to keep a third quarterback? Admittedly, he won't be someone that will set your world on fire. Quinn Gary? Tim Couch? Yeah, those are pretty slim pickings. But it's better than having your pants around your ankles in November if both Leftwich and Garrard are hurt and your backup quarterback is, um, well — who would that be again?

Exactly

Friday, Aug. 17

The Bucs Buzz

Training camp ended with a whimper, which means most of the area news outlets did too.

We were all taken by surprise when the Bucs canceled their final practice on Thursday.

The Tampa Tribune chose to focus on the highs and lows of what writer Roy Cummings called one of the "oddest training camps in Buccaneers history." I produced a similar piece yesterday which you can access here.

At the St. Petersburg Times, they used the end of camp to publish a piece on linebacker Cato June. As June heads home to Tampa and settles in with a good Eddie Murphy movie, head coach Jon Gruden said there will be plenty for the linebacker to do this season, even though June spent most of last Friday's game on the bench. Naturally, Gruden chose to keep exactly what June might do to himself.

Cox update

Apparently cornerback Torrie Cox is taking his appeal for his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy in a different direction, according to a web report by the St. Petersburg Times.

The cornerback's attorney is now claiming that Cox's problem is a disability and should be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit, according to the Times, does not specify that Cox has a problem with alcohol, but that he is perceived to be and that's the reason the NFL is taking action.

Cox, however, has been charged twice with suspicion of driving under the influence and once with reckless driving while in Tampa. Reportedly, a drink of champagne at his wedding set in motion the wheels for the suspension. He had the drink after being placed in a program in which alcohol was prohibited.

The NFL is a letter of the law outfit nowadays, so the suspension doesn't surprise me (though, c'mon — one glass of champagne at a wedding? This is what we're going to suspend the guy for?).

The fact is, Cox used up his chances before this suspension. His declining play the last couple of years forced the Bucs to seek more competition at cornerback, and that competition is beating Cox out.

As I said in July when the suspension came down, Cox will eventually serve the suspension. He just won't do it in Tampa Bay. He'll be gone by September. In fact, here's the column I wrote on the subject back in July.

Another fantasy expert

Yes, I think those of us that play fantasy football for any length of time can say we're an expert. I tend to think I have some expertise in the area. In fact, my 2007 busts can be found in this space tomorrow, and my sleepers ran in Thursday's edition.

But one of my old friends is now with the Houston Chronicle as one of their experts, and his knowledge is worth a read.

Chris Chancellor is a former member of the Lone Star Football League (faithful readers of Postscripts — all two of you — know this as the one fantasy league I care about). He actually helped found it in 1991, back when fantasy football drew shoulder shrugs from even the most die-hard of football fans. Chancellor and I went to college together and our friend, Chuck Cox (who is still in the LSFL) recruited me to join the league in 1993. I also have Chancellor to thank for making me commissioner of the league in 1995 (or is he the one I have to blame?).

He will lend his considerable knowledge to the Chronicle, where he also works as one of their top ad reps. His first contribution can be found here.

Now, I know what you're asking — Why should I care about yet ANOTHER fantasy expert? Well, he went to the LSFL's championship game nine times, and won the title four times, in 15 years. And in the other league he founded, an auction league, he's won the title the last three years.

Chancellor, simply put, knows what works. Listen to him.

Saturday, Aug. 18

Preseason thoughts

I'm not much of a preseason football junkie. It's actually everything I can do to watch my favorite team, the Cowboys, play a preseason game. I know it's necessary, but it's just so anti-climatic when it means nothing.

But, of course, for fantasy owners, the preseason has a lot of value. So I put together some random thoughts, based on what transpired Friday night.

First of all, Miami beat Kansas City 11-10? Sounds like an exciting baseball game. The Chiefs' running game stinks on ice without Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes (but we already knew that, right?). I can't imagine recommending anyone that could pick up Johnson's slack if this holdout drags on. QB Casey Printers was the second-leading rusher. Last I checked, Printers was about as mobile as a barco-lounger. But the Fins' Ronnie Brown had a good game, rushing for 57 yards (almost outgaining the Chiefs' backs himself). I think Brown finally has a chance to make some noise this year because defenses will actually HAVE to respect his quarterback, Trent Green.

Atlanta QB D.J. Shockley left the game in the fourth quarter of Friday's 13-10 win over Buffalo. No word on the injury, but he was carries off, and in my experience being carried off usually isn't a good sign. Buffalo backup QB Trent Edwards had a nice night. Also, Atlanta RBs Jerious Norwood and Warrick Dunn did not record a carry. The Falcons may just have wanted to look at the third teamers. I've heard nothing about an injury to Norwood.

Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb. (Getty)
Donovan McNabb is back (I kept telling my girl not to worry when she chose to protect him in LSFL). The Eagles won, 27-10, over Carolina. McNabb was 6-of-9 for 138 yards. This guy's like Lazarus. You could amputate one of his legs and he'd find a way to compete. And here's a touchdown vulture alert. Eagles FB Tony Hunt had two touchdowns runs from short range. I think the Eagles are going to use this guy, thus decreasing Brian Westbrook's overall value. Carolina QBs Jake Delhomme and David Carr had nice nights, as did WR Taye Biddle, a surprise star at Panthers camp. He's not worth a pickup — yet — but he's had two straight games where he impressed the coaching staff.

Adrian Peterson rushed 8 times for 70 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings in their big win over the Jets. Let's hope this is just a case of getting the rookie extra work, or Chester Taylor's value will go in the toilet in a hurry. Of course, the Vikes are working with what seems like a hodge-podge of QBs. I know Tarvaris Jackson is supposed to be the starter, but I just don't see him making it through half of this season. Don't get excited about the Vikes' 37 points either — 3 TDs came off defensive touchdowns (that's four defensive touchdowns out of five total in two preseason games, if you're keeping track). By the way, Leon Washington had 11 carries for 52 yards for the Jets.

The Titans beat New England, but Vince Young was only 5-of-17. Chris Brown had a big night, though, as he fights for that starting running back job. No Randy Moss or Lawrence Maroney sightings, either.

Bucs stories around the Web

Traditionally there's not a lot of news the day before a game — just plenty of features and analysis to get you ready for the game.

Over at Bucsblitz.com, my "Observation Deck" feature previewing the game is up and can be linked to here. My goal is to give you an idea of what you'll see against Jacksonville — who I think will play, how long they will play and what key players and positions to watch. The second game is always crucial to those players that are third-stringers or worse, because these are some of the guys that will get cut in the first round of releases in a little over a week. Those guys have to show the coaching staff something or risk seeing little playing time in Week 3 of the preseason, which is traditionally the dress rehearsal for the regular season. The starters and the backups will play a lot, but the third- and fourth-stringers won't.

Our "Behind Enemy Lines" series is also up on the site. That's where beat writers from other teams answer each other's questions. I traded questions and answers with Jagnation.com's Charlie Bernstein earlier this week. Here are the links to Behind Enemy Lines: Jacksonville and Behind Enemy Lines: Tampa Bay As the regular season approaches, you'll be able to find links to all of these stories under our main header on Saturdays and Sundays.

At the Tampa Tribune, columnist Martin Fennelly writes about wide receiver Michael Clayton, who admitted that he's not sure if he'll make this team after two sub-par seasons.

Over at the St. Petersburg times, it's all about the offensive line, as second-year guard Davin Joseph is optimistic that all the ingredients are there for a return to the solid play of 2005, when the Bucs won the division.

And at the Orlando Sentinel, staff writer Chris Harry explores the possibility of a practice bubble at Disney's Wide World of Sports. The Bucs had to move seven of their 31 practices indoors due to weather, But they didn't get much accomplished. The Bucs already desire a practice bubble in Tampa (they're wrangling with Tampa Sports Authority on the issue), and it appears they might want to see Disney get one for them, too. BTW, the Bucs pay about $2 million to have camp at Disney every year, and it draws about 20,000 each year, according to the Sentinel.

Fantasy busts

I promised my fantasy busts this weekend, so there they are:

Larry Johnson. (Getty images)
Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City: I hate this situation. He's holding out (but will likely be signed by the regular season), his offensive line is taking hits left and right and his quarterback is now, likely, untested Brodie Croyle. Considering he will likely be taken No. 2 in most drafts, I don't think his production will match the selection. Take Steven Jackson instead.

Vince Young, QB, Titans: I love Vince, but his supporting cast is just plain ugly. Vince may end up having the best rushing season by any NFL quarterback, and it will be because he has no one to throw to.

Darrell Jackson, WR, San Francisco: He's never impressed me. He's coming off a career season. He's in a new offense with a young quarterback. He's injury prone. If you take him before the tenth round you're risking too much. And if you're taking him because you drafted QB Alex Smith, why aren't you taking TE Vernon Davis instead?

Donald Driver, WR, Packers: He'll be taken high because that's what his past production demands. His numbers are amazing considering the lack of weapons in Green Bay around Brett Favre the past few years. But there's no top back to take the heat off the passing game now. Expect Driver's numbers to dip considerably.

Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: You loved him last year, right? Well, fall out of love. McNabb is back, which means the Eagles will go downfield more (no more Jeff Garcia screen passes). The Eagles are also toying with Tony Hunt in short-yardage packages. That's reduced goal line carries for Westbrook. Plus, there's the inherent injury risk. He'll be taken in the second round by a lot of owners and the production won't match.

Kevin Curtis, WR, Philadelphia: The Eagles are going to want him to play on the edge as a flanker or split end. Guess what Carter is suited for? The slot.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Kansas City: His numbers have declined each of the last three years, and now Trent Green is gone. Expect the decline to continue.

Chicago defense: Yeah, they'll be good. But they're also going to tease a lot of owners into taking the unit too early. Take the Cowboys late. It'll even out by December.

Sunday, Aug. 19

The best Bucs stories on the Web

Tampa Bay lost to Jacksonville, 31-19, last night, and my "Observation Deck" piece will be up shortly. Plus, if you missed my live blog from last night's game, it's still up on the site. That will be a staple every game at Bucsblitz.com.

Over at the Tampa Tribune, columnist Martin Fennelly sings the praises of quarterback Jeff Garcia, saying that the veteran quarterback's presence may make this season somewhat tolerable. Also, NFL writer Ira Kaufman breaks down the play of young guards Davin Joseph and Arron Sears, who held their own against a tough Jacksonville defensive line.

Over at the St. Petersburg times, Rick Stroud focused on the Bucs' best performances of the night — Jeff Garcia and the first-team defense. Stephen F. Holder was left to speak to the young offensive players about their performances on Saturday, which backslid from their high level against the Patriots.

Fantasy rookies

Here are the fantasy rookies I have my eye on this season:

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit: Let me put it this way — I drafted Johnson in a keeper league, and I hope to pair him with Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald for the next 10 years. That's how much I like him. Somewhere, Jon Gruden is still crying that the Bucs couldn't take him.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Buffalo: I'm still not a huge fan, but he's the only rookie back that will get all the carries entering the regular season. That will make him worth something as a No. 3 back.

Greg Olsen, TE, Chicago: I'm reading that Olsen is outrunning Brian Urlacher in practice and is showing off tremendous hands. He may make an impact earlier than you think (and you can get him really late, too). Could be a great, late pick in a league where you have to start a TE.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota: He'll benefit from sharing time with Chester Taylor, but that also complicates where to take him and what kind of production to expect.

Dwayne Jarrett, WR, Carolina: Value shot up after Keyshawn Johnson's release. Someone has to catch what Steve Smith can't.

Brady Quinn, QB, Cleveland and JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland: Unless you're in a keeper league, stay away. And if you are in a keeper league, don't be the goober that takes either one of them too high.

Monday, Aug. 20

The best Bucs stories on the Web

Practice is going on right now at One Buc, and I want to get out there. But I wanted to drop a few lines on stories to take a look at sometime today

I've got a feature on Alex Smith on the site right now, written by our staff writer, Tabitha Chancellor. Both Gruden and Smith want to see the third-year TE make the leap from good to great this year. Plus, you can link to my analysis piece on the good, the bad and the ugly from Saturday's preseason game.

Over at the Tampa Tribune, Anwar S. Richardson writes that the Buccaneers, from their players and their coaches, don't really put a lot stock in a preseason record. That record is 1-1 entering Saturday's game. Records don't mean much in the preseason people.

Over at the St. Petersburg times, Rick Stroud writes about rookie linebacker Adam Hayward, who is dedicating this season to his mother, who died in 2004. The coaching staff is looking for a better game out of Hayward and the rest of the backups. Hayward missed a big tackle on Maurice Jones-Drew. The rest of the backups missed everything else.

And at the Orlando Sentinel, Chris Harry writes about those backup defenders and their failure to grab the momentum handed to them by a starting defense that responded with a tremendous effort on Saturday.

Allegedly

I saw Kathy Griffin in Fort Myers last night and her near-two hour set killed. It takes talent to be inappropriate and appropriate at the same time, and she has it in abundance. She's going to hell — and she admits it — but she's talented. And, no, I was not dragged there. I wanted to go.

Among the targets — Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Oprah Winfrey, Paula Abdul (she started a story she never finished), Ryan Seacrest (apparently he's the devil) and countless others that elude me at the moment. She climaxed the show with a bit about Barbara Walters and astroglide.

Good times. Good times.

After practice

Actually, I wouldn't call that much of a practice. No pads, no major drills. It basically became a walkthrough. But it is two days after the game, so maybe some guys needed a little longer rest than others.

I have news on Antoine Cash, Jeb Terry and Zach Tuiasosopo. You can link to the story here.

It was a "mustache" game

If you watched the Bucs-Jags game on Saturday, you saw it — Barrett Ruud's mustache.

Ruud didn't have it on when I talked to him after practice on Monday.

Barrett Ruud — without the mustache. (Getty)
"It was time," Ruud said. "It's like (Jerry) Seinfeld says — ‘You're taking a vacation from yourself,'" Ruud said. "I had to get back to reality. I'd go out in public and get some looks."

He called it a cross between "porn star" and "dirt bag." And this isn't the first time Ruud had grown a mustache.

"The whole thing started in college," Ruud said. "The linebackers at Nebraska had a ‘mustache' game. Every year we grew them when we played the dirtiest team we played. We don't' really play a dirty team this year so I thought I would do it in training camp and get a few laughs."

So Ruud wasn't trying to fit in with his fellow starters — Cato June and Derrick Brooks — both of whom sport facial hair.

Ruud has moved on from the mustache, but others have not.

Ronde Barber's the only holdout right now," Ruud said.

Tuesday, Aug. 21

The Bucs Buzz

I search the globe for the best Buccaneers stories on the Web — so you don't have to.

Today I wrote about quarterback Chris Simms, mainly because I soon wont' be able to. I believe Simms' absence against Jacksonville sealed his fate with this team. I think the Bucs are either going to cut him or trade him. Now, Simms doesn't think so — or at least he's operating under that assumption. He told me on Monday that he's still working toward being ready to play on Saturday at Miami. That would not hurt his trade value.

Off-site, the Tampa Tribune's Roy Cummings wrote about rookie safety Tanard Jackson and his big-play ability during Saturday's preseason loss. Bucsblitz.com will have its own take later today or Wednesday.

And, it appears he's a convert now. Despite the misfires the Bucs had in the shotgun last week with the center-snap exchange, head coach Jon Gruden told the media that he has no intention of abandoning the shotgun.

The St. Petersburg Times examined backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who appears to be making improvement this preseason in spite of fewer reps. I don't think it will lead to Gradkowski winning the backup job, though. I think the job is McCown's to lose — and he won't lose it.

Elsewhere, the Orlando Sentinel writes that rookies like linebacker Adam Hayward had a rude awakening on Saturday night in Jacksonville. Remember that missed tackle on Maurice Jones-Drew in the first half of that game? Hayward thought he had him dead to rights. And he wasn't the only rookie hit over the head by the NFL on Saturday, either.

Goodell's big challenge

I'm not going to bore you with another long, drawn-out opinion piece on Michael Vick. There are more than enough of those out there. He's going to jail for his crimes and he may never play football again, as it should be in a case like this.

I'm more interested in what happens after the Vick matter is settled, once he's convicted and suspended by the NFL.

This has been pretty easy so far for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his crusade to clean up pro football. Pacman Jones? Had a rap sheet a mile long. A one-season suspension was a no-brainer. Chris Henry? Eight game suspension for a litany of off-field alcohol violations? Sure. A long suspension for Vick? No problem.

This is the easy part. What's the hard part?

Say in the next few months or years a NFL player comes along and is charged with rape. Or a player is charged with murder, but then pleads down to obstruction of justice. Or a player is sought in the investigation of the stabbing of a relative.

These aren't hypotheticals. They've actually happened in the NFL. And those players, in the past, received relatively minor suspensions or fines.

If Goodell truly is the new sheriff in town, he's off to a promising start. But all he's done is nip pre-existing conditions (Jones and Henry). Once he suspends Vick — and he will, probably for two years — he'll simply be reacting to a crime to heinous to ignore. What if a player commits a crime such as rape, but has no prior criminal history? What if the case turns into something akin to the Duke lacrosse fiasco? What will Goodell do when the crimes become more gray and more human?

That is what I'm waiting to measure Goodell by. He's proved so far that he's a pragmatic commissioner who is willing to wait until all the facts are in, but isn't afraid to levy unnecessary action against a player still under investigation (witness Vick's suspension from training camp, which was fair under the circumstances).

The next challenge is the big challenge for Goodell, and that is what will define his fight to clean up football. He can't afford to be soft when it comes to acts against other people, and his action against Vick will set the bar.


Bucs Blitz Top Stories