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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs players say firing Morris might not be the only change



Bucs running back Earnest Graham is one of the team’s most experienced players, and as such he’s seen everything the NFL has to offer – including firings.

Monday’s firing of coach Raheem Morris wasn’t unexpected by Graham, who figured there would be a price to pay after the season the 4-12 Bucs just completed.

“I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “We know how this works with the way we finished the season. Under the circumstances, I don’t think anybody can expect to have a job after this.”

Graham was injured and lost for the season Oct. 23 but had played under Morris for each of his three seasons as head coach. Graham also has been on the Bucs’ roster since 2003. Morris joined the club as an assistant in 2002.

The blame falls on Morris and players, Graham said.

“It’s about the team,” he said. “We’re all in this together and the blame has to fall on everybody. It wasn’t totally our fault and it wasn’t totally Raheem’s fault.”

Defensive tackle Brian Price, admitting he was bracing for the news, said he still wasn’t prepared for it.

“No matter whether you expect it or not, it’s always a shock,” Price said. “He’s the only coach I’ve known in the NFL. I mean, he drafted me. And he didn’t get the job for no reason. But during that slide things didn’t go our way. But what’s done is done. I wish I could take all the blame instead of him.”

Because there is going to be change – a completely new coaching staff, for starters – Price said it’s up to the players now to do what Morris always said and “don’t blink.” That’s a saying Morris was known for repeating often.

“We know things are going to change,” Price said. “Like Coach Raheem always said, you just have to deal. There are a lot lessons we can take from Coach Raheem. . . This is our job. This is what we signed up for. You have to adapt.”

And the change will go beyond the coaches, something players are coming to grips with.

“There are going to be some guys who might not be here,” Graham said. “That’s the league, man.”

[Last modified: Monday, January 2, 2012 7:11pm]


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