Oregon's Stewart talks about Bucs meeting

Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart met with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, the first stop on a four-team tour this week. Stewart talked about his meeting, his injury status and his impressions of One Buc Place, in this interview with bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins

Scout.com's personnel guru, Tom Marino — a man with 35 years experience as a pro football scout — calls Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart the most complete back in the 2008 Draft.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers met with Stewart on Monday at their One Buc Place training facility, the second time in a month that the team and Stewart have met. They also had a formal meeting at the scouting combine.

Stewart met with head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen and running backs coach Richard Bisaccia.

"It was cool," Stewart said of the meeting. "Everyone was real laid back. They all love football. I got to meet a lot of the coaches. It was a real good visit overall."

Stewart said he spent most of his time with Bisaccia and happened to meet Bucs safety Jermaine Phillips.

"When I met with (Bisaccia) we talked football and he had me do some things on the (wipe)board," Stewart said.

The 5-foot-10, 235-pound back is considered by most scouts to be a between-the-tackles runner who can absorb punishment, but still has enough speed to get outside and make defenses pay if he gets to the second level. Stewart is coming off a 1,722-yard rushing season with the Ducks, one that saw him score 11 touchdowns. He also ranked ninth nationally in all-purpose yards with 2,481 yards. He left college with one year of eligibility remaining.

He is injured at the moment, coming off toe surgery for an injury he first suffered in November. He should be ready for training camp and Stewart said it doesn't appear to be hurting his draft stock.

"They say it won't hurt my status," Stewart said. "If anything, it could help. I had an injury and got it taken care of instead of letting it go and letting it get worse. That would have hindered me from excelling the way that I want to at training camp."

Stewart is considered a first-round pick.

Tampa Bay's running back situation is in flux right now, as the team has little clue when their first-round pick from three years ago, Carnell Williams, could return from his patellar tendon injury. In the meantime, Earnest Graham is considered the starter, while Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett are considered backups.

Stewart is a back similar in size to Williams who also has the ability to return kicks and catch passes. But the Bucs gave him little indication of their plans on draft day.

"They couldn't give me too much detail," Stewart said. "They don't know how the draft is going to go. They called it a crapshoot. You don't know what will happen until that day. I think they have some interest in me."

The Buccaneers select No. 20 overall in the first round. It's unlikely that Stewart will last to No. 51, the Bucs' second-round pick.

While some college football players are wowed by an NFL team's facilities, Stewart was less so. Oregon has one of the most palatial and technologically advanced fieldhouses in college football. Stewart liked what he saw in Tampa.

"They're (the facilities) pretty good," Stewart said. "Oregon's facility is probably as nice as you're going to find in college football. They have pretty high standards at Oregon for facilities. The Bucs facility was real nice, clean and big."

It's turning into a busy week at One Buc Place. The Bucs have already met with Virginia Tech OL Duane Brown and DB Brandon Flowers, Texas RB Jamaal Charles, Kent State CB Jack Williams, Vanderbilt T Chris Williams, Cal WR DeSean Jackson and Houston WR Donnie Avery. The Bucs will also attend a private workout for Rutgers T Jeremy Zuttah on Thursday.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com 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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