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Bucs fullback Askew readies for role in passing game

TAMPA — B.J. Askew is paid to block, paving the road for the Bucs' rushing attack.

It's a thankless job, but one he is more than willing to do. Just the same, he wouldn't mind moonlighting as a pass catcher.

Last season, Askew caught 18 passes for 175 yards and no touchdowns. His only rushing attempt was a 3-yard gain in a loss to the Giants in the NFC wild-card game.

As the fullback enters his second season with the Bucs after four seasons with the Jets, coach Jon Gruden might be less hesitant to call Askew's number.

"It's something I've done my whole career. I feel real good about it," Askew said of his receiving skills. "The thing is, even in New York, in practices I'd get touches and stuff. But game time would come around and there just weren't enough balls to go around, which is fine. It's one of those things that if it happens, I'll be ready for it.

"I don't want to say anything. I'm here to block. Everything else is second."

Gruden recognized Askew's versatility early last season. But a severe ankle sprain that hobbled Askew the final month of the season limited his touches.

"I think he realized even in camp and preseason games that he had something," Askew said of Gruden. "I don't know if it was late in the season or not. But after playing a full season hurt, being able to do some things really well, he was impressed and I'm sure he wants to use it."

Askew, who was held out of the final two regular-season games, says his ankle is healthy again.

"Oh, man. It feels good. It took months," Askew said. "I went almost a month and a half playing with it hurt."

Askew, 27, caught several passes in Wednesday's minicamp workout at Raymond James Stadium.

"We're going to try to do that," Gruden said. "He's an integral part of our offense. He does have pass-receiving skills. Running skills. We'd like to use all our backs, and he's certainly a guy we're going to use."

GARCIA STRUGGLES: Quarterback Jeff Garcia prides himself on precision, but he suffered through some erratic moments in Wednesday's workout.

Garcia threw some passes behind receivers, lost a center exchange, had one pass slip out of his hands and another ball batted down by defensive end Kevin Carter.

"He struggled today," Gruden said. "I'm pretty sorry for what you saw earlier in the 7-on-7 (passing drills), but he's had a great camp for us, and he's leaps and bounds ahead of where he was this time last year."

FIRE THOSE CANNONS: Gruden is a master at keeping workouts fresh, which is why he moved Wednesday's workout to Raymond James Stadium.

On several occasions after an offensive touchdown, the cannons fired on the pirate ship in the north end zone.

Gruden likes practicing in the Bucs' ballyard. "I think it's good. This is where we play. This is where it all happens," he said.

WRAPPING IT UP: The Bucs are scheduled to conduct a final minicamp workout today before adjourning until the start of training camp. Players report to Celebration on July 25.

Gruden said the Bucs will have at least one night practice this year to help prepare for night games against Seattle, Carolina and San Diego.

Last year, Gruden rewarded the club for its attendance in the voluntary program by canceling the final minicamp practice.

"They know what to do," Gruden said. "They've got to take care of themselves, obviously. They've got to stay in shape, they've got to get some rest and at the same time, they've got to get away from it. Get rejuvenated. … Come to training camp and showcase your stuff."

Bucs fullback Askew readies for role in passing game 06/18/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 12:14pm]

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