TAMPA — When the Bucs signed free agent defensive back Eugene Wilson last month, their intent was to make the former New England safety a cornerback.
Despite how confident they seemed about the potential for success, it still is a rather big experiment. After Wilson's first full week on the job with the conclusion of this week's offseason practices, it appears the Bucs were onto something.
"You can't say enough good things about him," defensive backs coach Raheem Morris said Thursday. "He's looking like a stud right now."
Morris is so convinced Wilson, 27, will make a successful transition he already figures the player will make things interesting at left cornerback. That was Brian Kelly's position, though it has been manned for much of the past two seasons by Phillip Buchanon during Kelly's lengthy injury absences. Wilson has been working for the time being behind Ronde Barber at right cornerback, but it's expected he'll see time at both positions throughout the offseason.
"You have an open corner spot," Morris said. "We want to see what goes down there. Guys have to jump up and compete. (Kelly) left and he was a big part of us, but we have guys who are ready to step up."
Wilson hasn't been a full-time cornerback since his days at the University of Illinois, but it seems he never lost the skills the job requires. It's more a matter of recalling them from his long-term memory.
"I'd say it's just a matter of getting the movements back," he said. "Being a safety, you move different than you do at corner."
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? The Bucs voted against the addition of a helmet transmitter for defensive players during last week's owners meetings, but middle linebacker Barrett Ruud is ecstatic the measure passed.
Ruud, who makes defensive calls in the huddle and will wear the primary speaker-equipped helmet, prefers it over the armband method used in the past. Previously, players would receive a hand signal from the sideline, then find the corresponding number on the armband that would indicate which coverage to call.
"I really hated wearing the wristband," Ruud said. "Sometimes you can't see the signals well, then you have to look down and search for (the play)."
While that multistep process was going on, precious seconds were being lost that are better spent trying to read the offense.
"To me, it's good because the defense is always late in getting the call," Ruud said. "So maybe it will speed it up for us. The only thing that can be bad is if they give you too much information and you start thinking too much. But I've already been talking to (coaches) about it, so I think we'll work it out."
ready, BREAK: Thursday's session was the team's last until next month. The Bucs will hunker down in draft preparations for the next two weeks, then hold a rookie minicamp the weekend after the April 26-27 draft.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.