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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Raheem Morris not stressing over absentees

The Bucs didn't have a few of their regular starters for today's first OTA session of the offseason, including left tackle Donald Penn, tight end Kellen Winslow and running back Derrick Ward.

Regarding Penn, coach Raheem Morris didn't express concern over Penn's discontentment about his contract, a sticking point that is prompting him to stay away from offseason work.

"I’ll just reiterate that it’s a voluntary deal," Morris said. "You never want to badmouth a guy for a voluntary workout. When a guy’s able to spend time with his family, you can’t knock him for that. What Donald Penn means (to the Bucs) is he’s the left tackle of the football team. He protects our franchise: The guy that’s throwing the football.

"Donald Penn’s got to get his head right so when he comes he’ll be ready to go. We’re taking a different approach this year. We’re going to coach the guys that are here. We’re going to make sure the guys that are here are ready to play."

Penn is a restricted free agent and has been tendered a maximum RFA contract, a one-year deal that pays $3.168 million.

Asked whether he has pled with Penn to show up, Morris said he didn't feel compelled to do so.

"That’s not my cup of tea," he said. "My job is to coach the football team and coach the guys that are in the building. That’s what I continue to do. Anybody that’s in front of me, that’s who we’re going to play with."

Regarding Ward and Winslow, no one is overly concerned about their absences. Both have frequently been around during the conditioning portion of the offseason program in recent weeks. Winslow's offseason regimen is a grueling one, much of which he does on his own.

"They’re both working through former injuries (and) getting healthy," Morris said. "I’m sure we’ll see those guys shortly."

Left guard Jeremy Zuttah appeared to miss today's session, too, but it was attributed to a personal matter. It's expected he'll be a regular attendee.

-- STEPHEN F. HOLDER, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 4:01pm]


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