Doucet comes up with injury at practice

Wide receiver is a big need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and one of the top receivers in the country is at the Senior Bowl in LSU's Early Doucet. But will the Bucs get a full week of viewing of Doucet, who suffered an injury during South team practice on Tuesday? Find out in this premium article.

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are interested in LSU wide receiver Early Doucet, they should hope they saw what they needed to see on Monday and early Tuesday during South practice at the Senior Bowl.

Doucet came up a bit gimpy during practice on Tuesday and sat out part of the workout. He said afterward that he tweaked his hamstring, but he felt confident he would be able to play in the game on Saturday.

"I'm out here to compete so that's my main goal," Doucet said.

Doucet said the Bucs have not spoken to him yet, but given the Bucs' need for young receivers, a conversation between Doucet and the Bucs seems a foregone conclusion, either in Mobile or at the National Scouting Combine.

Doucet's talent demands a conversation. At least San Francisco head coach Mike Nolan, who is coaching the South team, thinks so.

"He's a guy that has caught my eye," Nolan said. "He has good thickness. He runs good routes. I was asking my scouts about him. Hopefully he'll play (on Saturday)."

The injury, however, is poorly timed, considering Doucet (6-foot, 211 pounds) said he's out to prove he's not an injury risk after missing five games in 2007 with a right groin pull in practice on Sept. 14.

Doucet returned in time to help fuel LSU's drive for a BCS National Championship against Ohio State. In the national championship game Doucet led the Tigers in receiving with seven catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

He finished 2007 with 57 catches for 525 yards and five touchdowns, matching his 2006 numbers (59-772-8 TDs) when he played 13 games and played alongside Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, both of whom were drafted last year.

"I ended a chapter of my life on a good note," Doucet said about the national title. "Now it's time to start a new chapter."

Doucet was considered talented enough last year to be considered a first-day pick in the 2007 Draft. But Doucet said he felt he had more room to mature as a receiver and chose to stay at LSU.

The decision may have paid off. Doucet is considered a first-round pick by most scouts, and some draft Web sites have Doucet as the No. 2 receiver in the draft behind Oregon's DeSean Jackson. ranks Doucet as the No. 3 receiver in the draft behind Jackson and junior Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma.

On Tuesday Doucet showed off the form that has made him a projected first-round selection. Before he tweaked his hamstring, Doucet beat his former teammate, Chevis Jackson, for a 50-yard touchdown pass from Kentucky's Andre Woodson.

He had one of the better days of any of the receivers in this game, as he showed good hands and great explosion out of his routes. He did, at times, struggle with his cuts, but most of the receivers for the South team did so on Tuesday.

Bowe cemented his status as a first-round selection at this game last year, but Doucet isn't getting hung up on trying to emulate what Bowe did last year.

You don't want to put pressure on yourself," Doucet said. "Just play. If you do that you'll be relaxed and not put pressure on yourself. Good things will happen."

Doucet brings an added dimension as a kick and punt returner. He's returned kicks and punts since his high school days, when he was also a star basketball player at St. Martinsville, La.

The Bucs not only have a need for young wide receivers, they also have a need to solidify their return situation, which at the moment is manned by only Micheal Spurlock.

The prospect of playing for the Bucs seemed appealing to Doucet, especially since he knew the Bucs made Michael Clayton a first-round pick in 2004.

"I like their system," Doucet said. "Michael Clayton had a great rookie year there and has been productive for them. Having a guy like Jeff Garcia, a veteran, makes your job as a young player easier. You have a guy you can go to who understands the game and the scheme and can be a mentor to you."

Doucet knows it's a long path until draft day. It appears the Philadelphia Eagles are showing interest as well, and several teams, including Minnesota, have the same need and select before the Bucs at No. 20.

So who knows where Doucet will end up.

"I can't predict the future," Doucet said. "I don't know what's going to happen."

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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