Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs eager to get first look at rookies today
TAMPA - Before he can run the Bucs offense, rookie quarterback Josh Freeman first must learn the Bucs offense. That's what the three-day rookie minicamp that starts today at One Buc Place is all about. "The main thing for the guys this weekend is they've got to learn the system so that when they come back with the vets they're ready to go," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "The other thing you're looking for is to see who's been working out, who's in shape, who's ready to run." Freeman will garner most of the attention, of course, but the Bucs are eager to see not only their draft picks but also several of the undrafted free agents who have either been signed by the club or invited to the rookie minicamp for a look. It was at this camp last year that undrafted rookie running back Clifton Smith first showed off some of the skill that resulted in him earning a roster spot and then a Pro Bowl berth as a return man.The Bucs are hoping to find another Smith among this year's roster fillers, and former Notre Dame linebacker and team captain Maurice Crum Jr., former Florida State defensive end Neefy Moffett and former Richmond running back Josh Vaughn are among the notables expected to be in that group. Also expected to be in the camp is former Durant and Florida International safety Marshall McDuffie, whose dream of playing college and pro football was nearly destroyed after he helped incite a brawl between FIU players and Miami players during a 2006 game. "It's going to be exciting for everybody," General Manager Mark Dominik said. "We'll have some invitees that are looking to get a contract so it'll be interesting to see who steps up." The Bucs are obviously hoping Freeman steps up. They moved up two spots in the first round to get him with the 17th pick so if anyone is under pressure in this camp it's him. He's not alone. The Bucs are looking for all their draft picks to show them they're serious about winning a job. More than getting a feel for what kind of shape the draftees are in, this camp is about the draftees getting a feel for One Buc Place, their coaches and the system they'll be playing in here. "They've got to learn their coaches, learn how they have to move through Tampa, learn what's going on," Morris said. "We want them to come here, do a little meet and greet with the staff, have a nice tryout for a couple of guys and move on."
Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979.