Among the many things revealed at last week's players-run minicamp was — finally — the statuses of the Bucs' long list of key injured players. And for a team that was practically running out of bodies late last season, the news was particularly welcome.
S Cody Grimm (broken leg), CB Aqib Talib (hip), LB Quincy Black (broken arm), G Davin Joseph (broken foot) and DE Kyle Moore (shoulder) appeared fully recovered and have few, if any, limitations.
For some, the football-related activities of the past week were their first since last season, giving a more realistic picture of their progress. With traditional offseason workouts lost as a result of the NFL lockout, it has been difficult for players to determine exactly where they stand. The team, prohibited from contacting players because of the lockout, hasn't a clue.
DT Gerald McCoy, who sustained a torn biceps that ended his season, used the camp as a true measurement.
"Me personally, I kind of got to see where my arm is at," he said. "I kind of got to see how it was going up against the offensive line, being able to (block) guys and move around."
What did he learn?
"If training camp started today, I could roll and definitely wouldn't make excuses, but I wouldn't be (able) to tell you I'm 100 percent," he said. "There are times my left arm starts to hurt a little bit because it's not all the way back. It's 100 percent healed and about 80 percent strong … compared to my right arm."
WR Arrelious Benn, who tore his ACL in December, continued his surprisingly quick comeback, aggressively running routes and cutting in the open field. It's too early to say with certainty that Benn would be ready to go when training camp opens, but he maintains he'll be available if cleared by the team.
RB Kareem Huggins (knee) is getting close, he said, though he did not participate in team drills in Bradenton. Rookie DE DaQuan Bowers did not attend the camp, choosing to remain in South Carolina where he is completing his rehab from a January knee surgery that caused him to plummet in the draft.
The news on DT Brian Price wasn't good, as his recovery from a pelvic fracture is proving lengthy. He vows to be back, but Price only recently started light running and has gained weight.
For the most part, though, the Bucs will get a boost. After losing 13 players to injured reserve, including eight who were starters when they sustained their injuries, they were overdue for some good news on the injury front.
FAST FRIENDS: WR Mike Williams and QB Josh Freeman have done a fair amount of throwing and catching this offseason, but they also did something else together that proved valuable:
They bowled. And they played pool — lots of it.
If you believe a quarterback and his receiver should have a good relationship on and off the field, then for Williams and Freeman, it was time well spent.
"We actually became friends instead of teammates," Williams said. "Me and Josh became close friends, and we're trying to make that (an advantage) on the field."
Williams said last week's workouts were far more precious than the passing work Freeman and some offensive players have done on the USF campus.
"Having guys out there like Talib talking trash, it makes it more competitive," Williams said. "It brings another aspect to the game. Routes (against) air are to help you and the quarterback, so you know where the ball is going to be. But when you have a defender in front of you, when you have a defender as good as Talib, you have work on adjustments. That's what me and Josh are trying to do."
ON STANDBY: The Bucs are willing to commit to another player-organized camp if an end to the lockout doesn't come soon. "I spoke with Josh about it, and I know he's going to be grabbing guys and doing some throwing," LB Tyrone McKenzie said. "If this lockout continues, then we'll try to grab the guys again" for another camp.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.