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Bucs offense does well in short-yardage drill

LAKE BUENA VISTA — If there is one place offensive linemen get the chance to show their worth, it's on the goal line.

Wednesday, they did as the offense scored touchdowns on four of six chances in an intense short-yardage drill. It gave the offense bragging rights. But more important, it was a positive sign for a unit that in 2007 scored touchdowns on only 69.6 percent of first-and-goal situations.

"We can't always rely on (receiver Joey Galloway) to make a big play," guard Davin Joseph said. "We have to be able to march down the field, get in short-yardage and goal line and convert. … We had a good feeling walking out of that period."

Earnest Graham ran for two scores and Michael Bennett and rookie Clifton Smith one.

"We're very strong up front," Graham said. "We've made some upgrades at a lot of positions. We're very strong at running back and fullback. I think we're definitely built to score down there."

Conversely, the defense, which in 2007 allowed touchdowns on 85 percent of its first-and-goal situations, might have reason for concern.

"Games are won on the goal line," defensive tackle Jovan Haye said. "The offense got the best of us (Wednesday)."

BLACK'S NEW ROLE?: Quincy Black has lots of promise. But because of the Bucs' group of stout linebackers, he has rarely been able to show it.

That might change, however, as the second-year player has been one of only a few linebackers participating in pass-rush drills as the Bucs attempt to use his versatility and speed.

"In this heat, when you get a lead, the fourth-quarter pass rush is going to decide the game because the offensive linemen are tired, too," coach Jon Gruden said. "Sometimes, these fourth or fifth guys can give you some key snaps."

Black, a third-round pick, saw a few snaps at end during his rookie season but played almost exclusively on special teams.

"They keep a record of everything we do in practice, so you always want to put your best foot forward and be aware of what you put on tape," he said. "Anywhere I can help the team, that's what I want to do."

INJURIES: Galloway continues to be sidelined by a groin injury sustained just before camp. Gruden said he will be cautious but hopes the receiver returns in the next two days.

"We don't treat him like everybody else," Gruden said. "He's a strange bird to start with."

Graham practiced after tweaking his ankle Tuesday. And tight end Ben Troupe sustained a mild concussion Tuesday but should not be sidelined long.

One more: Fullback Carl Stewart, who spent most of the offseason with the Bucs after going undrafted out of Auburn, signed.

Bucs offense does well in short-yardage drill 07/30/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 1, 2008 1:02pm]
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