Wednesday, Aug. 29
Is Jeremy hurt?
Answer? It's still hard to say
Trueblood missed practice on Tuesday. Why? Jon Gruden finally told the media that Trueblood had a lower foot problem.
On Monday, Gruden told the media that Trueblood had a "symptom of a problem" and was held out.
What does that mean? No, seriously, I'm asking you — what does that mean?
Trueblood left after the first series of Saturday's win over Miami. Here's a chain of events you should take into account. On the last play of that drive, quarterback Jeff Garcia took a hit — a pretty big one — that led to some bleeding on his hand. The rush came from Trueblood's side. The next possession, Donald Penn was in at right tackle.
After the game, Gruden said Trueblood was hurt. Trueblood was asked if he was hurt, and he said no. Gruden stuck to that story on Monday, but never specified the injury.
So there's no correlation at all between Garcia being hit and Trueblood leaving the game? But yet no one knows why he's hurt until a full three days after? Hmm…
Trueblood has not had a particularly good preseason, admittedly. Perhaps that missed assignment was the last straw.
But can anyone see Penn as the starting right tackle on opening day? Nope.
The fact is minor injuries to second-tier starters don't need to turn into sagas. But that's exactly what the Bucs keep doing, which leads to rampant speculation in the public — which is a good and bad thing for the Bucs.
He'll miss Thursday's game, but should be ready for the opener. Maybe this is much ado about nothing. But it bears monitoring as the regular season approaches.
The Bucs Buzz
I search the globe for the best Buccaneers stories on the Web — so you don't have to.
Hit Bucsblitz.com today for the latest edition of "film session." That's where I break down the best and worst plays of last week's game.
If you're a loyal reader of "Press Pass," you know that we had an interview with Maurice Stovall last week. The Tampa Tribune updates Stovall's situation, taking into account the possibility that the Bucs will use a committee approach at wide receiver.
He's quite, he's polite. He's the Carnell Williams of defense. He's first-round pick Gaines Adams, and as the St. Pete Times reports, his personality changes once he steps on the field. Please keep in mind that five of the last six years the Bucs have ranked 24th or worse in running the football. Then, think about those season-ending record. Get it?
Speaking of Williams, Bradenton Herald writer Roger Mooney talked to him after the game Saturday, and to running backs coach Art Valero. Now in his third season, Williams is becoming more vocal in the locker room around his teammates, something Valero sees as a very good thing.
The Bucs are not available to the media today. I'll be monitoring if there are any personnel moves during the day. MP
Friday, Aug. 31
A word about Paris
Football can be heartbreaking at times, can't it?
Watching Paris Warren's season end the way it did on Thursday night is one of the most unfortunate things I've seen in football. To have the game he was having — seven catches, 110 yards and two touchdowns — and to have it end like that certainly gave everyone on his team pause Thursday night.
I thought it was great to see the entire team out there on the field wishing him well as he was carted off. But his season is over.
As that game progressed, I was reaching the point where I thought Warren might make the team, maybe even pushing Michael Clayton off the roster.
But, now, it's a year of rehab ahead for Warren, and another chance next year. But I think now, at least, he's shown everyone that he can be productive on this level.
The Bucs Buzz
If you haven't been to Bucsblitz.com today, check it out. The site has had its most substantial redesign in three years. I personally think it looks great. It's much cleaner, easier on the eyes and more professional. It gives our NFL writers a great platform to bring you great team coverage.
At Bucsblitz.com right now, we have postgame coverage, including my game story feature Warren and quarterback Luke McCown. Click here for the story. Also, I've written a pro-con article on Chris Simms and his precarious situation on the Bucs' roster as the final cuts come on Saturday, plus my predictions on who will make the final cuts.
Tampa Tribune columnist Martin Fennelly writes that Bucs fans should hold their breath with this group of quarterbacks. And he's not including Chris Simms, who, according to Gruden, scratched himself from Thursday's game. Also, in case you missed it, tight end Jerramy Stevens had a big game Thursday night. He'll face his former team, Seattle, in the opener.
At the St. Petersburg Times, you probably saw the cheap shot on Gaines Adams in the second quarter of Thursday's game. Here's the reaction to it. Adams just had the wind knocked out of him.
Saturday, Sept. 1
Musing as the cuts loom
We're about two hours away from the Buccaneers announcing their roster cuts to get down to the 53-man roster. The rumors are already flying.
A blog entry at the St. Petersburg Times has the Bucs keeping quarterback Chris Simms — at least for now. The blog entry speculates that Simms may be traded.
I feel the need to reiterate my position. I believe the Bucs will cut Simms, though I don't believe they should, given the fact that he has more experience than any of the backups on the roster. I think keeping Simms has value, but I'm not sure I can see a scenario where they keep him. To do so would sacrifice depth at another position, likely on defense.
Two former Bucs are still out there in defensive end Simeon Rice and wide receiver Keenan McCardell. The Texans released the wide receiver yesterday. Given how both exited the team — on acrimonious terms with management — I can't see them coming back unless the Bucs are willing to pay, and they probably won't be — at least for those two players.
If you're been here before, you know that I put together my own 53-man roster on Friday. If you didn't see it, here's a link to the premium piece.
I admit — this is my first time at predicting a 53-man roster, and there's a degree of difficulty in selecting one, since there's going to be about 22 unemployed Bucs in about two hours. GMs around the NFL agonize over these decisions because they're all good football players. Plus, there's the practice squad. That's the eight-man practice team the 32 teams will put together in the next 48 hours.
It's almost as if you're dealing with a free agent again. Say the Bucs choose to release rookie back Kenneth Darby. He'd be a wonderful candidate for the Bucs' practice squad. But here's the problem. Once they release Darby, he's free to sign with anyone in the NFL. So the Bucs have to court him for a second time this season.
By the way, a practice squad player makes about $5,000 a week during the season. That's not too bad when there's no pressure to play.
I'm at One Buc awaiting the cuts. Check in this evening for who is cut and who is kept.
Sunday, Sept. 2
The Bucs surprised me
Given their recent history with injured players, the Bucs seem to give the impression of impatience. Moves like Shelton Quarles and Simeon Rice say to me, ‘Well, you can't help us, so we can't help you."
That's why I expected the Bucs to release Chris Simms yesterday, though if it had been my decision I would have found a way to keep him. Seems the Bucs agreed with me and kept him.
I applaud the move, but I wonder how long he'll stay in Tampa. There are obvious rumors of a trade, and in the ebb and flow of a football season players get hurt and team needs become more pronounced. If the Bucs have a rash of injuries like last year, how long can they keep Simms and justify that against the needs of the team? It will be an interesting first few weeks.
I developed a list of possible free agents the Bucs could take a look at in the next few says, and former Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich tops the list. You can read the premium piece by linking here.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bucs bring Leftwich in for a workout. He's healthy, has a big arm and has five years as a starter under his belt. He would be an asset, experience-wise, considering that Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski have little experience.
Now, if the Bucs got past the looking stage and actually talked contract with Leftwich, one wonders whom the Bucs would cut to make room.
Now THAT would be an interesting decision.
Bucs stories around the Web
Of course, thanks to my break, there are plenty of Bucs stories out there to catch up on.
I'll point you toward our own coverage of cut day first. At Bucsblitz.com we attacked the issue from every angle. Along with the free agency issues, we had articles on:
Off-site, at the Tampa Tribune, columnist Martin Fennelly explores the Simms decision, saying that by keeping Simms the Glazers have put their faith in the fifth-year quarterback — and not head coach Jon Gruden — for the future. And the Tribune took a look in their crystal ball in their football section to see what the Bucs would look like — in 2009.
At the St. Pete Times, Rick Stroud writes that if Simms had been released, it's likely he would already be an Atlanta Falcons backup, or even starter. Stroud also wrote that several league exec believe the Bucs will eventually part ways with the QB.
Both Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen were unavailable for comment after the roster cuts. So we'll hear from them today, along with Chris Simms. Plus there will be practice squad signings today. MP
He's tired of talking about Chris
Simms, that is.
Naturally, we wanted to know about how the Bucs might use Chris Simms during Thursday's final preseason game against Houston. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden made it pretty clear that he's sick of talking about the fifth-year quarterback.
"I ain't going to talk about it anymore, really," Gruden said. "I've talked about it all year. He's a guy we're trying to get into the game and into the groove, OK? But every day, geez."
Naturally, we pressed him on the issue.
"I don't know how much he's going to play, I really don't," Gruden said. "We're going to do our best to get him out on the field."
And pity the poor guy that showed up late and asked him again.
"You're only allowed to keep 53 guys and only one quarterback plays, unless we put in the Arkansas offense, where you play two at once," Gruden said. "There's a lot that goes into it. We're going to try and keep the best players. Not a lot of teams keep four. Some teams keep two. So we have some tough decisions to make and we'll make them.
"I'm not talking about it anymore. I'm not talking about it anymore. I've been, every day, talking about this issue, OK? We're going to do what we feel is best for our football team. We have a lot of respect for Chris, certainly, and what he's been through. At the same time, we have a helluva schedule facing us in 10 days and we'll make the decisions that are the best for our team."
Gruden has been weary of the Simms questions for some time. But the questions are going to persist at least through the weekend, as we keep track of whether Simms will make the final roster cut or not — and what might happen afterward if he doesn't.
I think Gruden may be under pressure here from the organization to keep Simms. He's a fifth-year pro, he's a great face for the organization because he works hard and he always talks openly with the media. Plus, there's what happened last year, which makes him a sympathetic figure.
The Bucs should keep him, but I don't think they will. That's been my position the last three weeks and I'm sticking to it.
Monday, Sept. 3
Trotting along to Tampa
Jeremiah Trotter appears to be on his way to Tampa Bay.
Several media outlets in Tampa are reporting that the veteran linebacker will sign a one-year deal with the Buccaneers on Monday evening.
The Buccaneers don't confirm these sorts of moves until the ink is dry on the contract, so they'll likely send out a release Monday evening, or even Tuesday morning.
It's unclear who will get the heave-ho from the roster to make room for Trotter, who will likely back up Barrett Ruud at middle linebacker. That's Trotter's only position.
Trotter is big, even for a linebacker — 262 pounds — but he can still be productive against the run. He'll likely need a couple of weeks to become acclimated to the Tampa 2.
As for who may be cut, the Buccaneers have one more spot available on their eight-man practice squad. Given that Gruden declared the entire roster healthy today, I would expect the cut to be a rookie that can be put on the practice squad. That might mean a short stay on the 53-man roster for a player like Adam Hayward or Quincy Black. I think Hayward might be safe, though, since he is now Derrick Brooks' backup on the weak side. Black could be released, signed to the practice squad and Ryan Nece — a strong side starter the last two years — could slide over to back up Cato June.
We should know by tomorrow how it shakes out.
That's one big move down this week. I predicted at least one more. I don't think Taye Biddle counts, do you?
Anyone wondering about Mark Jones?
I admit that I have not been a big fan of Mark Jones' work as a punt returner the past couple of years. But I got the sense during the preseason that this might be a breakout year for him, especially the way he put the Buccaneers in solid field position on every return against Miami.
So I thought little of it when the Bucs pulled him after one return against Houston and looked at other possibilities. The Bucs needed to know whom they had behind him in case he was hurt, right?
Apparently they were looking to replace Jones, whom they cut on Saturday. So much for having one player that could handle kicks and punts this season. Instead, Gruden said, the Bucs would use Phillip Buchanon, Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard in a returner committee.
I'm sure Joey's thrilled. A fragile, 35-year old receiver returning punts? That sounds like it should be part of the job description for your top deep threat with a history of hamstring issues.
I think Jones might have Chris Simms to thank for his release. Think about it. By keeping Simms, sure, they kept an experienced quarterback with some upside and is close to being healthy. But by keeping Simms, the Bucs had to expend a player.
I had a feeling that player might have been Paris Warren. But once it was clear Warren was done for the year, someone else had to take the fall.
I think that fall guy became Jones.
I can't imagine the Bucs wanted to cut him, as much as Gruden praised the guy on Sunday, saying he was a NFL caliber kick returner. So why isn't he here?
Ask Chris. It's the price the Bucs are paying for keeping the fifth-year QB, I think.
Bucs stories on the web
The Bucs made two player moves on Sunday, signing a pair of second-year players. That included wide receiver Taye Biddle, who made a splash in Carolina and no doubt learned some things from deep threat Steve Smith. You can link to that story, in addition to the practice squad signees (the Bucs have room for one more) here. Also, I'm planning a chat with Buccaneers fans at 10 p.m. Wednesday. I hope that will be the regular time, but we'll see how the response is this week.
Over at the Tampa Tribune, Roy Cummings writes that head coach Jon Gruden is all right with four quarterbacks — for now.
Over at the St. Petersburg times, they had their own take on Gruden's reaction to keeping four quarterbacks — which was that the head coach had little to say about it. Also, tight end Jerramy Stevens had a great game in the preseason finale. But his playing time this week may be determined by his lack of playing time due to a trip to Scottsdale this week for a trial appearance stemming from a March arrest for DUI.
Meanwhile, could the Glazer family's sports empire be crumbling? USA Today is reporting that the Glazers will not sell Manchester United, despite reported takeover attempts by a pair of international consortiums. And the Orlando Sentinel had its own take on the Chris Simms story, stating that Gruden assured the media that Simms was there, despite the fact that he didn't practice on Sunday.
I'll be heading to the locker room in a few minutes. Simms was on the practice field today, looking on during walkthroughs. Hopefully we'll get to talk to him today.
Tuesday, Sept. 4
Jeremiah, Day 2
This is one of those stories I liken to, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
As of 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, there is no official word from the Buccaneers that Jeremiah Trotter has signed the one-year deal that everyone reported he would yesterday. We all know he's in town, since the NBC affiliate had video. Everyone has written about it (or blogged about it, as was my case, as I was unable to get the central figures in this on the phone). But it's going to happen, and once it does the Buccaneers will have a solid, veteran with four Pro Bowls to his credit to back up Barrett Ruud.
That's not a bad insurance policy for a player that, while good, has yet to prove he can be a consistent starter.
That's why I like Trotter — he's proven. Those are also the guys that Jon Gruden likes. Proven. He's gotten the job done in two different defenses. Granted, this Tampa 2 isn't exactly the best fit for him. He's not a coverage linebacker, just a run-stuffer. But as insurance goes at this time of year, he's the best you're going to get.
The other shoe should drop on this today. I don't see the team dragging this out much longer, unless for some reason negotiations break down.
Simeon Rice is now a Denver Bronco, having signed a one-year deal with Denver on Monday. It's reported to be worth about $2.5 million, about the amount the Bucs wanted him to shave from his 2007 contract.
This is actually good news for the Buccaneers. One of the other teams Rice reportedly was considering was St. Louis, which plays the Bucs in Week 3 of this season.
It's hard to imagine Rice not having a monster game against his former teammates and the organization that he perceives gave up on him. That will be a very interesting press conference in Denver later this week, probably on Wednesday.
It will be fun to hear what he has to say. Sim's unusual speaking style and loquaciousness sometimes overshadowed his ability. But you know what? He was going to be a beast for someone this year, unfortunately it won't be for Tampa Bay. Given the situation right now, the Bucs could really use him at right end.
What's ahead this week
The Bucsblitz.com weekly newsletter will be out tonight, but just to give you an idea of what will be on the site now that we're in the regular season:
Film Session will be up every Tuesday, breaking down the best and worst plays from the previous game. I hope to have Houston up sometime today. It's been a weird couple of days with team workouts on Sunday and Monday.
Behind Enemy Lines is our exclusive series at Scout.com, where we answer questions from reporters for other teams. I'll be trading questions with Seahawks.net's Doug Farrar for articles on Wednesday and Thursday. We'll also do a podcast on Thursday.
We're also working on features on a couple of Bucs that have stumbled into key roles this year. Look for those features later this week.
And we're beefing up our archives. If you've seen our redesign, you know there's a rolling scroll underneath our lead story. There you can find links to our Jon Gruden transcript archive, which is every press conference the coach has given since Training Camp; and the Press Pass archive, featuring every Q&A we've had with Bucs players in the last two weeks. We have other archives coming to better serve you and I'll update you on those in the coming days and weeks.
Bucs stories on the web
The Bucs have made other acquisitions, including wide receiver Taye Biddle, who may play a role on special teams once he's learned the playbook. This guy has plenty of speed. I think the Bucs want him to become their full-time returner, eventually.
Over at the Tampa Tribune, Roy Cummings tracked down linebacker Jeremiah Trotter at the airport on Monday for this interview as the linebacker came into town to — sign his contract.
Over at the St. Petersburg times, Simeon Rice is still making news, as the former Buc is now a signed, sealed and delivered Denver Bronco. And Stephen F. Holder caught up with Paris Warren, who is looking forward to beginning his injury rehab soon.
Meanwhile, Orlando Sentinel reporter Chris Harry wrote about Jeff Garcia, who will be Tampa Bay's eighth starting quarterback during Jon Gruden's tenure and Garcia's fifth team in five years. Garcia also acted as a sort-of recruiter for former teammates Jeremiah Trotter, who naturally is close to being a Buc.