TAMPA — New acquisition John McCargo participated in Sunday's morning practice, hoping it was the long-awaited start of something new.
Signing McCargo, a free agent inked Saturday to augment the depth on the defensive line, became necessary because the Bucs have been beset by injuries at defensive tackle in the past couple of weeks. With reserve E.J. Wilson going on injured reserve with an Achilles' injury and with Brian Price (pelvis) and Roy Miller (knee) still sidelined, the Bucs had a glaring need.
That worked in McCargo's favor. The Bucs have promised him nothing, but the Bills' 2006 first-round pick seeks a chance to revive his career. He at least has an opportunity to do so with the Bucs.
"He's a guy that's been followed (by the front office) since 2006," coach Raheem Morris said. "(General manager) Mark Dominik did a lot of work on him. (Defensive line coach) Keith Millard had a little familiarity with him. He's a guy who did a nice job working out and filled a role that we can use right now with the injury to E.J.
"Another guy that adds to the competition. Another guy to add to the mix."
McCargo said: "I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to have another opportunity to play this game. I'm just excited to be on the team. I'm going to come out here and work hard and try to make the squad.
"I'm looking at it like a potential new start. My career hasn't gone the way that I wanted it to go so far, but I'm looking forward to a fresh start. A new team and a new place. I'm going to go out there, go hard and be the player that I know I can be."
Morris said he hoped Price and Miller could return against the Dolphins on Saturday in the third preseason game, but he stopped short of making a prediction.
STOCKER RETURNS: Rookie TE Luke Stocker, who had not participated in a full practice since the second day of training camp because of a hip injury, finally had his restrictions lifted Sunday. He participated in a fairly physical workout conducted in shells (shoulders pads and shorts).
The goal is to get up to speed and get game action Saturday.
"It was my first day back, getting some pads on and getting a little (contact)," Stocker said. "With a few plays, I knocked the rust off. It felt good to be back out there. My plan is definitely to play this week, and I'm on the right pace to do that."
LIGHTEN UP: Morris defended second-year DT Gerald McCoy for his widely debated comments after Thursday's loss to the Patriots in which he playfully made light of New England's unexpectedly quick tempo by suggesting he wanted to say, "Um, Mr. (Tom) Brady, can we line up?"
McCoy was assailed on some Internet sites and radio programs for making light of what was an ugly performance by the Bucs.
Morris said that was unfair.
"It was a poor example of how you give a guy a compliment," Morris said. "He was kind of making a joke about Mr. Brady and the pace he sets. He's kind of like (Saints QB) Drew Brees in that manner. He was really giving him a compliment, and he was smiling about it and letting everybody know how good Tom Brady was. He was kind of making a joke, and that's kind of his personality.
"I just think it was taken out of context. It wasn't like we were in a playoff game and he was sitting on the sideline moping. He was bringing his team back and getting ready for the next game."
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com.
Preseason: Saturday: vs. Dolphins, 7:30 * | Sept. 1: at Redskins, 7:30
All games on Ch. 10 * subject to NFL blackout rules