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Bulking up defense still a priority for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA — The Bucs on Friday got their first look at DE Kyle Moore, a fourth-round pick who will be part of the team's effort to improve a lacking pass rush.

But that doesn't mean Tampa Bay isn't open to looking elsewhere for help.

On the first day of rookie minicamp, attention briefly turned to the prospect of adding a veteran presence such as free agent DE Jason Taylor. Defensive coordinator Jim Bates, Taylor's onetime coordinator in Miami, made it clear he would be in favor of such a move.

"Jason is a great football player," said Bates, who has had multiple conversations with Taylor about potentially joining the Bucs. "Last year, he fell off a little bit, but he's a young 34. Just a good, solid professional athlete.

"There's been discussion. I don't know where we're going with it. You can talk to Mark (Dominik) and everybody on it. We have some good football players. We're looking for players out there and always trying to improve."

The question remains whether the Bucs as an organization have a strong interest in adding Taylor or whether Bates is acting somewhat independently.

Dominik, the general manager, hasn't commented to the media on Taylor, who has been linked to the Patriots after being released by the Redskins in March. But Dominik has told others the team has no plans to sign Taylor. The club has continued to have sporadic conversations with DE Kevin Carter, a 14-year veteran, though he visited with the Lions this week and could have an opportunity in Detroit.

This much is clear: The Bucs are likely to keep looking.

"There will be guys probably hitting the wires around this time of year," Bates said. "In June, there's another (wave) of people being let go. We always keep our eyes open as far as what's going out there and try to build a competition going into camp. … There's always a place for a veteran to come in and kind of show the young guys how it's done."

Pumped up: Almost every evaluation of DT Roy Miller, a third-round pick, refers to his brute strength. Turns out, Miller was a state champion powerlifter in high school in Killeen, Texas. He said he would have participated in nationals if not for a leg injury.

"I did okay," he said. "I dead-lifted about 770 (pounds) and squatted close to 700, about 690. I think I benched around 465."

Odd man out? Brian Griese could be the first quarterback released. Coach Raheem Morris said Friday that he hasn't spoken with Griese, 34, since the team drafted Josh Freeman in the first round a week ago. But Morris said he received a message from Griese and planned to speak with him soon. The team has five quarterbacks but has consistently maintained the plan is to take four to training camp.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Bulking up defense still a priority for Tampa Bay Buccaneers 05/01/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 2, 2009 6:32am]

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