TAMPA — Plaxico Burress is intent on playing in 2009, and it appears he wouldn't mind doing so in Tampa Bay.
The former Giants receiver, who is embroiled in a legal snafu and faces weapons charges in New York after an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound last year, reached out to Bucs RB Derrick Ward and others on the team to express an interest in joining them.
Coach Raheem Morris made the revelation on Tuesday, the first day of the team's mandatory minicamp. The Bucs are open to upgrading at receiver, and Burress, 31, suddenly is a more realistic option. He is one step closer to returning to the field after his case on Monday was continued until September. If no plea deal is reached before then, a trial likely would not be held until after the season, theoretically allowing him to play.
Morris said there are obstacles, without talking specifics.
"He's a great player," Morris said. "Any time you get a chance to add a great player to your team, you definitely have got to have some sort of interest. We don't know what's going on with his legal problems, we don't know what's going on with the suspensions in the league. Until we get all that stuff resolved, it's not even worth talking about."
Ward and Burress were teammates with the Giants. Morris said he also is friends with WR Antonio Bryant.
"He contacted those guys and showed an interest himself," Morris said.
In a related matter, the Bucs worked out free agent WRs Drew Bennett and D.J. Hackett on Tuesday. Morris said the team was looking at contingency options for possible injuries.
SEARS ABSENCE EXCUSED: LG Arron Sears' prolonged offseason absence continued despite camp attendance being mandatory, but the team said Sears was excused as he continues to deal with what the club calls a personal matter.
Second-year man Jeremy Zuttah continues to function as the first-team left guard.
"I'm just hopeful and I'm concerned," Morris said of Sears.
LT Donald Penn's status has also been in question. He showed Tuesday after skipping all but two of the five weeks of voluntary practices and gave way to backup James Lee for much of the morning practice.
He remains miffed about not getting a long-term contract but said, "I'm here to work. I guess I had to learn a lesson, but I'm back now."
Morris said Penn was not being treated differently because of his absences.
griese a no-show: QB Brian Griese did not attend and could be subject to a fine from the team. Griese, 34, has been unhappy with his role and is likely to be released before training camp begins Aug. 1. The team plans to take four quarterbacks to camp and currently has five. Under league rules, Griese can be fined a maximum of $8,000.
COX KEEPS ON: CB Torrie Cox is doing his best to make his position more competitive and had a good showing in the morning practice. He's had a number of obstacles in his career, the most recent being the inadvertent laceration he received to his face when CB Aqib Talib swung his helmet at Penn last month.
"That's football," he said. "It happened. Move on. Nothing serious happened and I'm out there still playing."
Cox also has dealt with an alcohol-related suspension and has torn the same ligament in his left knee three times, each a season-ending injury.
"I just keep pushing," Cox, 28, said. "I'm like Jason (from the movie Friday the 13th). You kill him, you stab him, you drown him, but he keeps coming back."
CADDY CLOSER: RB Cadillac Williams continues to battle back from a second torn patellar tendon and maintains his intent is to return in time for training camp. "I'm doing lateral movement, I'm doing cutting — I'm pretty much full speed," he said. "But at the same time, you have to be careful. My goal is to be strapped up on Aug. 1."