Quarles, Kelly miss first workout
Linebacker Shelton Quarles and cornerback Brian Kelly did not attend the Bucs' first voluntary team workout Tuesday, fueling more speculation that neither player may be with the club at the start of the 2007 season.
Quarles, 35, may be forced to retire because of undisclosed medical reasons. He has expressed a determination to play but has said the decision does not rest with him.
Kelly, 31, also was notably absent from the first Organized Team Activity Tuesday. Although the workouts are voluntary, most players attend. Kelly elected to remain in California with his family.
Two weeks ago, Kelly had a telephone conversation with Jon Gruden in which the Bucs coach said they discussed some 'personal issues.' Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris said Kelly has not attended a single meeting or workout since the off-season program began a few weeks ago.
""Brian Kelly is out with his family right now,'' Morris said. ""All this stuff is voluntary. B.K. is what he is and he's doing what he does. He has not been here for meetings and he has not been here for voluntary workouts.
Kelly underwent season-ending surgery on a turf toe injury and is believed to be recovered enough to attend the workouts. He has been unhappy about his contract status, particularly after the team decided to extend the contract of fellow cornerback Ronde Barber at the start of last season.
""I'm sure he's okay, or he'd be here worried about it,'' Morris said. ""B.K. is a superior athlete. He knows his body and understands it. I think he'll be here when he has to be. These guys have a long off-season and a lot of these guys like to be around for the competitive nature. B.K. has never been like that. He's always liked the west coast and has always been out there. If he shows up, great. I'll coach his butt off.''
Working in Kelly's place at left cornerback with the first-team offense Tuesday was Phillip Buchanon, the Raiders former No. 1 pick who was claimed off waivers last season from the Texans. Buchanon re-signed with the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent.
In other news, free agent Cato June worked with the first-team defense at strong-side linebacker, taking the place of Ryan Nece. Defensive end Simeon Rice, still recovering from shoulder surgery, did not practice. He was replaced at right defensive end by Broncos free agent Patrick Chukwurah.