New coach Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers open minicamp

TAMPA — For Raheem Morris, the first day of minicamp as Bucs coach wasn't just a chance to see where his team stood, but rather where he should stand.

The former defensive backs coach bounced from position to position, from player to player, at times keeping to the rhythm of the hip-hop music of Tupac Shakur he selected to play on the loudspeakers during warmup drills Tuesday.

"To be honest with you, I'm just trying to figure out where I'm supposed to go during individual drills," he said. "I'm just kind of floating around and trying to figure out the lay of the land. I want to get around to everybody, I want to be around everybody.''

The Bucs are not allowed to be in pads during the voluntary three-day minicamp. Quarterback Brian Griese, offensive lineman Donald Penn and running back Earnest Graham were missing.

Luke McCown and second-year pro Josh Johnson took all the reps at quarterback and iced their throwing arms between practices. They are learning a new offense under new coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski.

"The volume is different," McCown said. "Coach Gruden's playbook was 6 inches thick; this one's 3 inches thick. But there's still a lot to learn. I'd mastered Gruden's offense so there's a lot I need to forget now."

Morris said he told his team to focus on timing and precision, particularly on offense. It was the first chance for many new coaches to see all the players together on grass.

"You put pieces together. You have thoughts," Morris said. "Like putting Jermaine Phillips at linebacker. Then you go out and see him make a couple plays today, see him key a couple of things. See him get a little more comfortable. It's not relief. Because if you didn't believe in it, you wouldn't have done it in the first place. It's a feeling of 'Yeah! This might come together.' Then you just let it. If it doesn't, then you fix it."

CUTLER BACK IN PLAY: The Broncos said Tuesday they will grant Jay Cutler his request and try to trade the disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback.

The Bucs, who last month tried to obtain Cutler, 25, in a three-way deal, will be at the top of the list of many interested teams. Many believe it will take a first-round pick in this year's draft and possibly a No. 1 in 2010.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said he and coach Josh McDaniels were unable to get Cutler to call them back for the past 10 days. Bowlen said he spoke with Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, on Tuesday and was convinced "that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos."

HOME SWEET HOME?: Defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, who has played inside and outside in various situations, is working with the starting unit on the left side, and the team's lack of options there gives him a chance to stick. "That could definitely be a home for me," he said. Wilkerson said he dropped 14 pounds to 266 and gained muscle through diet and exercise. Playing a part-time role in 2008, he was second on the team with five sacks.

BATES pleased: Defensive coordinator Jim Bates said he felt good about what he saw from his tackles. He suggested that Ryan Sims and Chris Hovan would start if the season began today, and conceded that the draft isn't rich in talent at a position that is a great need.

Obama wants Dungy

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy has been invited to join a White House faith-based advisory council.

Dungy publicist Todd Starowitz confirmed that President Barack Obama invited Dungy to join the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He said Dungy, who couldn't be reached, had not decided whether to accept.

VICK UPDATE: Michael Vick agreed to pay the Falcons at least $6.5 million as part of his bankruptcy case, clearing the way for the team to release him. The quarterback is finishing a sentence for dog fighting.

OBITUARY: Gus Cifelli, a tackle who helped lead Notre Dame to three national championships and the Lions to the 1952 NFL title, died Thursday of natural causes in Royal Oak, Mich. He was 84.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

New coach Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Buccaneers open minicamp 03/31/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 6:57am]

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