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Ronde Barber says Tampa Bay Bucs have lockout leaders

Ronde Barber, left, with pro Daniel Summerhays at the Shelton Quarles Celebrity Pro-Am, says the Bucs are ready to work out.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Ronde Barber, left, with pro Daniel Summerhays at the Shelton Quarles Celebrity Pro-Am, says the Bucs are ready to work out.

PALM HARBOR — Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber will enter his 15th season, the most experienced player on the youngest team in the league. But he credits 23-year-old quarterback Josh Freeman for organizing practices during the NFL lockout.

"We have some great young leaders on our team," Barber, 35, said Monday from the Shelton Quarles Celebrity Pro-Am at Innisbrook. "It's amazing that a guy like Josh has already got everything all set up for the offseason in anticipation of this.

"It's not ideal; it's not what we want. But until we get something resolved, we'll work as best we can."

Bucs coach Raheem Morris said the continuity of the staff should help players until the labor issue is resolved. The defensive line will be most affected because the team hired new defensive line coaches Keith Millard and Grady Stretz.

"I think a lot of our young guys will have a good feel about what to do," Morris said from the pro-am.

Barber's twin brother, Tiki, will end his retirement and attempt to make a comeback to the NFL after missing four seasons. The Bucs, Jets and Raiders have been mentioned as possibly having an interest in Tiki, who rushed for 1,662 yards in 2006, his final season with the Giants.

Will Ronde be reunited with Tiki, about to turn 36, in 2011?

"We'll see what materializes," Ronde said. "Tiki apparently has nothing at all else to do. I've heard him talk about it for a year or so. Tiki was great when he left. He's been out for four years, so we'll see the next couple of months if his working out and his desire to do it stays the same."

Morris has said the Bucs want to build through the draft. But he has not ruled Tiki out.

"For us, it's not really in our philosophy," Morris said. "But a player like Tiki, you've always got to consider it just to see what he could do and how he would fit."

Around the league

Labor update: A request by players to keep the league and its teams from locking them out will be heard by a federal judge April 6 — the first time the sides will be in a courtroom since the labor pact fell apart. It is unlikely that negotiations will resume before then. Meanwhile, NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash said the league last week offered a 10-year collective bargaining deal and was willing to give the union more time to consider the proposal. George Atallah, the top spokesman for the players, said a deal was not close. "The perception is that we were really, really close. The reality is: We really, really weren't," he said.

vick endorsement: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick landed an endorsement deal with Lutte Licensing Group, maker and distributor of Core Synergy, a titanium-infused silicone wristband. In January, Vick signed a two-year contract with Unequal Technologies, his first endorsement since a conviction on dogfighting charges.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Ronde Barber says Tampa Bay Bucs have lockout leaders 03/14/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2011 9:58pm]
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