Holdout of LT Penn could be a distraction, according to Faine
Center Jeff Faine said Tuesday that the contract impasse between the Bucs and starting left tackle Donald Penn could become a distraction if there's no accord by training camp.
"It could (become a distraction). I think so,'' Faine said following the final minicamp workout. "And I'm not necessarily saying it's his fault, either. I think that each side of the field needs to even out. Let's meet in the middle and get this going. As an offensive line, you like to have continuity. You like to have guys working together all the time. We've changed quite a bit this off-season and that's something he's going to have to catch up on.
"Our communication and our calls have changed a little bit, little tweaks here and there. It's not a major game changing thing, but we're tweaking the machine a little bit and trying to fine tune it.''
Penn missed all the Bucs' voluntary off-season workouts and mandatory minicamp while seeking a long-term contract extension. He refused to sign the $3.168-million tender as a restricted free agent and the club reduced its offer to 110 percent of his 2009 salary -- a loss of about $100,000.
While Faine is eager for Penn's return, he was effusive in his praise for Demar Dotson, a converted basketball player from Southern Mississippi who is taking reps with the first team at left tackle.
"I can't say enough good things about him,'' Faine said of Dotson. "I think even we take it for granted on the inside as an offensive line...inside the offensive line room, that he's only been playing football for three years. He's learning how to play at the highest level that you can play football. Period.
"I think a lot of us take it for granted. I think he's a very, very bright star with a lot of potential and has a great attitude and a great work ethic. He wants to learn. He wants to keep improving and I think if he puts it all together, he could be one of the best to ever play the game. Now that's a lot being said and it's a pretty good ways away, but he has a chance.''
Bucs coach Raheem Morris said he is anxious to see Penn report to training camp but won't make any predictions.
"I'm a big Donald Penn fan and I look forward to his arrival as much as I know you guys all do,'' Morris said. "When he comes in, I'll be ready to coach him. It was great to see him at Fanfest. It was great to see him embrace our fans. That tells me a lot right there, for a man to come back and be around his fans and care about his fans, he loves Tampa enough to want to play here. I got a feeling he'll come up and play and I can't wait until he does.''
When will that happen?
"I can't answer that question,'' Morris said. "I'm not his agent, I'm not Donald, I'm not anybody that's going to help make his decision. But I'll wait and anticipate that he will be (here).'"