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Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn to former starter Will Allen at safety

TAMPA — Coach Raheem Morris left no doubt Wednesday about his plan to fill the void left by the four-game suspension of S Tanard Jackson. The job will go to former starter Will Allen, a player Morris helped bring into the organization.

"He's playing really good for us," Morris said. "He started for us two or three years."

Morris then turned his attention to Jackson, whose NFL substance-abuse policy violation was announced Tuesday afternoon.

"Tanard's not going to make or break the Buccaneers," he said. "He can only help us when he gets back. … He knows it was a poor decision."

Morris said he looked at Jackson like a little brother: "I drafted him. I love him. I saw him at the Senior Bowl. I brought him in here. I put him under my arm. I hugged him yesterday. I hugged him today. And I'll hug him … throughout the whole process.."

Should Allen, who started 16 games in 2006 and eight in 2005, get hurt and have to leave the game as happened in Tennessee last week, Morris has contingency plans. "You'll have to make decisions about whether you want to put (LB Jermaine Phillips) back, or you insert (LB Adam) Hayward or (LB) Geno Hayes, who've been playing really well in training camp."

Third-year man Donte Nicholson could also factor into the three-man safety rotation. S Steve Cargile, who played in 15 games for Denver in 2006 and 2007, was added Wednesday for depth.

Meanwhile, Morris plans to continue to give Jackson plenty of preseason work to keep him sharp before the suspension starts — and Allen takes over.

"I was … one of the guys who helped draft Will Allen, start Will Allen — I'm very comfortable with him," he said. "I've been telling him for years he was a starter in this league. That's what happened last year. I had four and you can only play three — and I played him whenever I got the opportunity. Now he's ready."

FAINE SITS: C Jeff Faine didn't practice, but Morris didn't characterize it as a setback. A groin injury forced Faine to miss practice last week and sit out the preseason opener against Tennessee. He returned to practice Monday and worked out lightly Tuesday. Morris said he'll know today "whether he can go or not."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Camp is over, but the preseason isn't. It's still kind of a grind going on here, and players are still fighting for jobs. The work is definitely not done — we just don't have to worry about any more two-a-days. And tonight is rookie night, so we get to dig into their pockets. That's always fun." — CB Ronde Barber on the conclusion of his 13th training camp.

MISCELLANY: It was a tough 24 hours for CB Mike Hawkins. In that span, the Bucs claimed him off waivers from the Cowboys, then announced his release Wednesday afternoon. Also waived: S C.J. Byrd and WR Joel Filani. … The team resumes practice today, but the workouts are closed to the public.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn to former starter Will Allen at safety 08/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 20, 2009 9:08am]
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