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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs rookie Luke Stocker nearing his return



One of the most disappointing aspects of this training camp for the Bucs' coaching staff has been the inability to see very much of tight end Luke Stocker.

Stocker, a fourth-round pick whom the Bucs traded up 12 spots to draft, entered camp with high expectations but has been sidelined since the first practice with a hip injury. But Stocker participated in portions of practice today for the first time, the Bucs easing him back into the fold.

His return to full action can't come soon enough for the former Tennessee star.

"It's been extremely frustrating," Stocker said. "I got here and, with the lockout, I never really had an opportunity to meet the coaches or be with my teammates," he said. "I didn’t get a chance to show what I can do. Then, in the first of practice I get hurt and I have to sit out.

"But everything’s going a lot faster than planned. I’m on a really good track and I’m really close to getting back."

It's probably unlikely that track would provide for Stocker playing on Thursday against the Patriots, but Stocker said he's certain he'll get some preseason action, a chance he hopes to take advantage of.

His coaches are hoping for the same thing. Stocker is a big part of their plans, and the tight end depth behind him is suspect, at best. The Bucs intend to make him a big part of their two-tight end sets, which the Bucs use frequently.

UPDATE: Coach Raheem Morris said today Stocker almost certainly won't play Thursday against New England.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 14, 2011 10:33pm]


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