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Bucs Beat: Former college assistants a plus for NFL draft

TAMPA - When he finally completed the task a couple months ago, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano had assembled a coaching staff heavy on assistants direct from the college ranks. Some believe that ultimately will be a detriment. Yet, as the Bucs prepared for the 2012 NFL draft, they learned the presence of 11 former college assistants could give them an advantage. The addition of former LSU secondary coach Ron Cooper, for example, gives Tampa Bay an inside edge in assessing the skills and abilities of Morris Claiborne, considered the top cornerback in the draft. Likewise, the Bucs should know from former Wisconsin offensive line and running game coach Bob Bostad whether it is worth spending a pick on Badgers FB Bradie Ewing.
"We feel like we have had a (big) advantage in terms of getting to know these young men, even before they went to college,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said last week. Many of the coaches recruited players while they were still in high school, sitting in their living rooms and getting to know them. "We know who these young men are inside and out, on and off the field,'' he said. "It's already been a great benefit to us and I hope to be able to use it for the next four or five years as those guys are still going to know the incoming freshman class as they come into their current university. No question, it's an important element for us.'' Passing grade S Cody Grimm put his surgically reconstructed right knee to the test during last week's three-day minicamp and came away feeling confident about his chance to be ready for the start of training camp in late July. "My knee actually feels pretty good,'' said Grimm, who tore his right meniscus and MCL while tackling RB Michael Turner in a Week 3 victory against the Falcons. "I just don't have the explosion or the strength and endurance yet. "I come out at the start of practice and I feel pretty good and then towards the end it bothers me some. I just have to put some miles on it. It's just a matter of strengthening it now, because I can do all the drills.'' If he can finally manage to stay healthy – Grimm had a season-ending broken leg 11 weeks into his rookie season – he should be the starting strong safety in 2012. Hard Times The decision to let former starting MLB Barrett Ruud leave last season in free agency was a controversial one, but less than a year later Ruud is playing for his third team in as many seasons. Ruud signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Titans in 2011, but was not re-signed after recording 57 tackles in nine games. He again settled for one-year contract, with the Seahawks for the league minimum base salary of $825,000 for a seven-year veteran, plus a $65,000 roster bonus. Lesson learned One of the first things DT Albert Haynesworth noticed about the young Bucs when he arrived in Tampa for a short stint late last season was how many defensive players struggled to recover from mistakes. One of those was rookie MLB Mason Foster. Foster led all rookies in tackles last year with 126, but said putting aside bad plays was the most important lesson he learned. "You just have to keep moving on to the next play,'' Foster said. "Don't harp too much on little things. Just keep it moving and make your plays when you can and don't press too much. Let the plays come to you and then do your job.''

rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979

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